Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Thnking back so long ago. . .

In our jurisdiction those assigned a vicarage (internship for the non-Missouri reader) and those put into the first placement as pastors of the church hear their assignments within a grand worship service attended by the bishops of the church (District Presidents for the Missouri reader) and the seminary faculty.  In the pews sit their families, hardly containing their angst and excitement awaiting the solemn announcement.  In the old days they clung to an atlas to find out where St. Bernard of the Prairie was in rural Iowa.  Today smart phones have made it so much easier to find the hidden address where you will begin your service.

It is a curious practice to some but one of the ancient traditions of our jurisdiction.  Of course, we all know that the decision is made by seminary placement officers with the give and take of those responsible for local episcope or ecclesiastical supervision within the districts (dioceses to the non-Missouri).  But that does not mean that this is a political process or a random one.  In fact, it only works because we really do believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in it (it seemed good to us and to the Spirit. . . ).  Some like to deride this as a modern day version of smoke filled rooms in which trades are made and people tried in various places and districts offering up both pleas for someone and a willingness to forego this round for a higher place in next year's draft.  I don't.  I believe the human structures do not preclude the work of the Spirit so that the candidate can believe and the church can affirm that God has placed these people where they are placed.

In my own case, my vicarage took place about exactly where I wanted to go but the circumstances I found were not in my plan.  My bishop actually died within hours of the placement and I was going to be alone for a goodly time in a parish with hundreds and hundreds in Sunday school and even more in worship each week.  When I got there, I found a parish still grieving the death of their pastor, and, having called a pastor, still not fully prepared to receive anyone as their new pastor.  I ended up being organist, liturgist, and preacher for the first service each Sunday, assisted and often preached at the two later, and also at the Wednesday services.  While some vicars find they preach seldom, I never failed to preach at least twice a week from the get go.  In the end, conflict surfaced and the parish suffered both from trying to call someone too quickly and still grieving the loss of the man who had been there for 16 years before he died.  But God placed me there for a reason and it was more apparent long after the vicarage year ended than while I was enduring it.

My placement came into the same district but between Albany and New York City in a small parish at the edge of the Catskills.  It was a congregation that had been without a pastor for several years and suffered conflict and division.  I often joke that I instantly united the congregation because none of them wanted me and so their factions could come together in their uniform belief I was not the right man for that congregation.  The truth is that both my wife and I agreed.  I would have taken a parish on the outskirts of hell if it had been offered but no calls came.  The first years of difficulty, conflict, and challenge gave way to nearly thirteen years of solid growth in faith and in numbers until when it seemed good to us and the Spirit to accept a call to Tennessee, we left amid tears -- ours and theirs.  Where I was sure this was either a joke or purposeful trial or mistake on God's part, it proved to be God's wisdom and purpose.  Again, this judgment did not come right away but over time.

Without the belief that the Holy Spirit is at work in the process and that God has placed this person here, both congregation and clergy are left to see this as a job and not a calling, an employment instead of a vocation with a destination.  That is the most destructive thing for the congregation and for the pastor.  The people in the pew must believe that God is at work in bringing this man to the congregation or else they will render a verdict upon his ministry simply on the subjective basis of personality or preference.  At the first perceived mistake, they will cry out for him to be fired or removed.  Patience comes only when we believe that God is at work and charity is offered not because the man deserves it but because God is worthy.  At the same time, the man placed there also needs to believe that he is not there by accident but by God's providential purpose, doing not his own bidding but God's, and working not for his agenda but the Lord's.  He will forgive their mistakes and rash judgments not because they are worthy but because God is and God's plan and purpose expect that we will trust Him and His judgment.

So let me say that there will be disappointment and glee, frustration and hope, sighs and smiles on placement day -- probably on the same faces.  The people and the pastor will be tested by time and circumstance.  When hurt feelings or dispute come, both will be tempted to believe that God made a mistake or was absent from this process but I urge both to resist this judgment.  Instead, as people of faith and the faithful pastors whom God sends, it is incumbent upon us to believe that God is not only in the details but present with the people and the pastor and that His purpose and His outcome will not be foiled or flawed.  God is in this place.  In Ft. Wayne and in St. Louis.  God will be in the place where you go -- wherever that will be.  I am more convinced of this truth now than I ever was.


Carl Vehse said...

Rev. Peters: "... attended by the bishops of the church (District Presidents for the Missouri reader)"

Except for some Lutherans living in an episcopal fantasy world, the Missouri Synod is NOT a church, but a corporate body of individual and congregational members. And Districts are NOT dioceses.

Furthermore, District Presidents (and the Synod President) are, by the nature of their corporate offiices, NOT bishops (in an episcopal understanding of the title). There are a few DPs who also have divine calls as pastors or assistant pastors of local congregations, and even the SP has a call to a congregation as a noncompensated assistant pastor, having occasional preaching, limited visitation, and no administrative responsibilities.

Such pastors might be considered as "bishops" of their individual congregations, but those DPs or SP are certainly NOT bishops in their elected corporated positions. The CCM has previously explained this; it will probably need to explain it again, even to its own members, if not again to the English District. Let's hope the seminarians also understand the distinction and any Stephanistic notions thoroughly removed.

Anonymous said...

"It is incumbent upon us to believe that God is not only in the details but present with the people and the pastor and that His purpose and His outcome will not be foiled or flawed. God is in this place."
Beautiful.. well said Pastor.
Re Carl Venshe/Richard Stickart: Try to focus, Richard. The excellent article is about the Divine Call and about how both the Pastor and the Congregation should to be led by the Holy Spirit. The article contains both Law AND Gospel while your response is, typically 110% Law.
a) About your total lack of Gospel: You need to talk to a 2nd Year Catechism student about how Law AND Gospel are what Confessional LC-MS Pastors and Congregations pray to understand, believe and trust.
b) Carl Vehse died over 100 years ago and Carl Vehse's writings speak about both Law AND Gospel, so you are definitely not really him. You are not who you claim to be and you probably need to take a Prozac about the size of a golf-ball.
c) When you write to Pastor Peter's very excellent blog, please try the practice of writing at least one Gospel truth for every piece of Law you pontificate upon. It is a good inter-net exercise for the faithful. Bet you can't. (Pastor Peters: can you REQUIRE Richard to try to balance Law AND Gospel before you publish him?)
I know you to be a Troll and will not engage in further discourse. Like my Grandfather wisely observed, "When you wrestle with a pig (troll) you both get muddy and the pig likes it." Remember Law AND Gospel. May God lead, guide and direct you, Richard. Law AND Gospel!!!!
God Bless the Pastor, Pastor Peters. Love your Blog.

Carl Vehse said...

To the contrary, Anonymous at 9:04 AM, I was focused, as the quoted excerpt and my comment on it demonstrate.

OTOH, your post, Anonymous, was rambling, pontificating, and condescending. Try to do better next time.

Anonymous said...

The basic assumption of mature Christians is that God works his Will
through the call process for the candidates from the two LCMS Seminaries.
It is still the Lord's Church and He works through the placement process
to put these seminary graduates into a parish where He wants them.

It has been said that the first five years of parish ministry will make
or break a pastor. In those formative years he learns the importance
of self-discipline for his study habits and work routine. He learns
to love the Lord and His flock. The pastor's devotional life is formed,
his ability to be well-prepared to preach and teach the Good News of
Christ on a weekly basis is revealed.

Anonymous said...

Carl never disappoints, or should I say perhaps, Carl consistently disappoints. And he is always right - if you doubt, he will certainly set you straight; HE never doubts!!

Larry Luder said...

Thank you for your insights Pastor Peters. I always look see who will be our new vicar and where they eventually be serving as pastors.

Anonymous said...

Re. Vehse...

Like Pavlov's dogs, all one needs to do is ring the verbal bell "bishop" and Vehse responds with his foaming-at-the-mouth spleen vents about bishops.

Anonymous said...

Therefore we, in this above enumeration, important as it is, wish to proceed with great care as is proper, and to cut off the advance of this plague and cancerous disease so it will not spread any further in the Lord’s field as harmful thornbushes. We have therefore held a careful inquiry, scrutiny, discussion, strict examination, and mature deliberation with each of the brothers, the eminent cardinals of the holy Roman Church, as well as the priors and ministers general of the religious orders, besides many other professors and masters skilled in sacred theology and in civil and canon law. We have found that these errors or theses are not Catholic, as mentioned above, and are not to be taught, as such; but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and against the true interpretation of the sacred Scriptures received from the Church. Now Augustine maintained that her authority had to be accepted so completely that he stated he would not have believed the Gospel unless the authority of the Catholic Church had vouched for it. For, according to these errors, or any one or several of them, it clearly follows that the Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit is in error and has always erred. This is against what Christ at his ascension promised to his disciples (as is read in the holy Gospel of Matthew): “I will be with you to the consummation of the world”; it is against the determinations of the holy Fathers, or the express ordinances and canons of the councils and the supreme pontiffs. Failure to comply with these canons, according to the testimony of Cyprian, will be the fuel and cause of all heresy and schism.

With the advice and consent of these our venerable brothers, with mature deliberation on each and every one of the above theses, and by the authority of almighty God, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we condemn, reprobate, and reject completely each of these theses or errors as either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth. By listing them, we decree and declare that all the faithful of both sexes must regard them as condemned, reprobated, and rejected . . . We restrain all in the virtue of holy obedience and under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication….

Anonymous said...

Moreover, because the preceding errors and many others are contained in the books or writings of Martin Luther, we likewise condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said Martin, whether in Latin or any other language, containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. They will incur these penalties if they presume to uphold them in any way, personally or through another or others, directly or indirectly, tacitly or explicitly, publicly or occultly, either in their own homes or in other public or private places. Indeed immediately after the publication of this letter these works, wherever they may be, shall be sought out carefully by the ordinaries and others [ecclesiastics and regulars], and under each and every one of the above penalties shall be burned publicly and solemnly in the presence of the clerics and people.

As far as Martin himself is concerned, O good God, what have we overlooked or not done? What fatherly charity have we omitted that we might call him back from such errors? For after we had cited him, wishing to deal more kindly with him, we urged him through various conferences with our legate and through our personal letters to abandon these errors. We have even offered him safe conduct and the money necessary for the journey urging him to come without fear or any misgivings, which perfect charity should cast out, and to talk not secretly but openly and face to face after the example of our Savior and the Apostle Paul. If he had done this, we are certain he would have changed in heart, and he would have recognized his errors. He would not have found all these errors in the Roman Curia which he attacks so viciously, ascribing to it more than he should because of the empty rumors of wicked men. We would have shown him clearer than the light of day that the Roman pontiffs, our predecessors, whom he injuriously attacks beyond all decency, never erred in their canons or constitutions which he tries to assail. For, according to the prophet, neither is healing oil nor the doctor lacking in Galaad.

But he always refused to listen and, despising the previous citation and each and every one of the above overtures, disdained to come. To the present day he has been contumacious. With a hardened spirit he has continued under censure over a year. What is worse, adding evil to evil, and on learning of the citation, he broke forth in a rash appeal to a future council. This to be sure was contrary to the constitution of Pius II and Julius II our predecessors that all appealing in this way are to be punished with the penalties of heretics. In vain does he implore the help of a council, since he openly admits that he does not believe in a council.

Anonymous said...

Therefore we can, without any further citation or delay, proceed against him to his condemnation and damnation as one whose faith is notoriously suspect and in fact a true heretic with the full severity of each and all of the above penalties and censures. Yet, with the advice of our brothers, imitating the mercy of almighty God who does not wish the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live, and forgetting all the injuries inflicted on us and the Apostolic See, we have decided to use all the compassion we are capable of. It is our hope, so far as in us lies, that he will experience a change of heart by taking the road of mildness we have proposed, return, and turn away from his errors. We will receive him kindly as the prodigal son returning to the embrace of the Church.

Therefore let Martin himself and all those adhering to him, and those who shelter and support him, through the merciful heart of our God and the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by which and through whom the redemption of the human race and the upbuilding of holy mother Church was accomplished, know that from our heart we exhort and beseech that he cease to disturb the peace, unity, and truth of the Church for which the Savior prayed so earnestly to the Father. Let him abstain from his pernicious errors that he may come back to us. If they really will obey, and certify to us by legal documents that they have obeyed, they will find in us the affection of a father’s love, the opening of the font of the effects of paternal charity, and opening of the font of mercy and clemency.

We enjoin, however, on Martin that in the meantime he cease from all preaching or the office of preacher.

{And even though the love of righteousness and virtue did not take him away from sin and the hope of forgiveness did not lead him to penance, perhaps the terror of the pain of punishment may move him. Thus we beseech and remind this Martin, his supporters and accomplices of his holy orders and the described punishment. We ask him earnestly that he and his supporters, adherents and accomplices desist within sixty days (which we wish to have divided into three times twenty days, counting from the publication of this bull at the places mentioned below) from preaching, both expounding their views and denouncing others, from publishing books and pamphlets concerning some or all of their errors. Furthermore, all writings which contain some or all of his errors are to be burned. Furthermore, this Martin is to recant perpetually such errors and views. He is to inform us of such recantation through an open document, sealed by two prelates, which we should receive within another sixty days. Or he should personally, with safe conduct, inform us of his recantation by coming to Rome. We would prefer this latter way in order that no doubt remain of his sincere obedience.

If, however, this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices, much to our regret, should stubbornly not comply with the mentioned stipulations within the mentioned period, we shall, following the teaching of the holy Apostle Paul, who teaches us to avoid a heretic after having admonished him for a first and a second time, condemn this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices as barren vines which are not in Christ, preaching an offensive doctrine contrary to the Christian faith and offend the divine majesty, to the damage and shame of the entire Christian Church, and diminish the keys of the Church as stubborn and public heretics.}* . . .

Carl Vehse said...

In his posts at 2:10 PM, 2:12 PM, and 2:13 PM, Anonymous simply defecates excerpts from the 1520 Exsurge Domine Bull, which Martin Luther burned, along with other papist droppings, in a Wittenberg bonfire on December 10, 1520.

Anonymous said...

Luther was also a vicious anti-Semite; one given to exaggeration and extremes, taking no prisoners; a crude man whose language would be constantly “bleeped” even on modern television. The ex-nun whom he took as a wife he treated with arrogance and disdain. His apparent inability to be faithful to his vow of chastity drove him to near-despair. To say that he was a conflicted individual is to succumb to understatement (as late as 1521, he was still willing to admit the necessity of the Petrine office in the Church). Even the most ardent supporter of the Reformation would never accuse Luther of being a model of Christian holiness.

Anonymous said...

The severity encountered by the young Martin in the person of his father had such far-reaching effects that it made him sickly and anxious as a boy, sad as a youth, scrupulous to a fault in the monastery, resentful of authority in his prime and beset with doubts, depression and despair in the dusk of life. Perhaps most indicative of the man’s agonizing search for absolute truth and yet lack of certainty is what is often given as his closing statement at the Diet of Worms: “Hier ich stehe. Ich kann nicht anders.” (“Here I stand. I can do no other.”) But he quickly adds, “Gott helf mich.” (“God help me.”).

Anonymous said...

But in Luther's spiritual life significant, if not ominous, changes were likewise discernible. Whether he entered "the monastery and deserted the world to flee from despair" (Jurgens, op. cit., I, 522) and did not find the coveted peace; whether the expressed apprehensions of his father that the "call from heaven" to the monastic life might be a "satanic delusion" stirred up thoughts of doubt; whether his sudden, violent resolve was the result of one of those "sporadic overmastering torpors which interrupt the circulatory system or indicate arterial convulsion" (Hausrath, "Luthers Leben", I, 22), a heritage of his depressing childhood, and a chronic condition that clung to him to the end of his life; or whether deeper studies, for which he had little or no time, created doubts that would not be solved and aroused a conscience that would not be stilled, it is evident that his vocation, if it ever existed, was in jeopardy, that the morbid interior conflict marked a drifting from old moorings, and that the very remedies adopted to re-establish peace all the more effectually banished it.

This condition of morbidity finally developed into formal scrupulosity. Infractions of the rules, breaches of discipline, distorted ascetic practices followed in quick succession and with increasing gravity; these, followed by spasmodic convulsive reactions, made life an agony. The solemn obligation of reciting the daily Office, an obligation binding under the penalty of mortal sin, was neglected to allow more ample time for study, with the result that the Breviary was abandoned for weeks. Then in paroxysmal remorse Luther would lock himself into his cell and by one retroactive act make amends for all he neglected; he would abstain from all food and drink, torture himself by harrowing mortifications, to an extent that not only made him the victim of insomnia for five weeks at one time, but threatened to drive him into insanity. The prescribed and regulated ascetical exercises were arbitrarily set aside. Disregarding the monastic regulations and the counsels of his confessor, he devised his own, which naturally gave him the character of singularity in his community. Like every victim of scrupulosity, he saw nothing in himself but wickedness and corruption. God was the minister of wrath and vengeance. His sorrow for sin was devoid of humble charity and childlike confidence in the pardoning mercy of God and Jesus Christ.

Carl Vehse said...

Anonymous, at 9:23 PM, 9:26 PM, and 9:29 PM, your piles of romish excrement are simply plagiarized from papist rags like The Catholic World Report or the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Anonymous said...

Just as much as you quote from your Book of Concord, Smalcald articles, etc. You're equally as, ahem, "original."

Anonymous said...


Richard Strickert