Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Blest be the ties that bind. . .

We all know that churches have business to conduct.  Overtures need to be considered and resolutions offered and reports heard and people honored.  It is the business of the Church on every level – from congregation to district to national jurisdiction. It is important though often ridiculed and it is how we order our life and work together at a time when things pull us apart and tempt us to go our own ways and do our own things.  From time to time we must consider difficult subjects and take stands that will offend some and wound others.  It is unpleasant but necessary and even salutary as we mark boundaries that must be marked.  Yet there is another aspect of this business that we dare not overlook.  That is the renewal of our bonds of fellowship.

I have been privileged to attend many of these national conventions and have missed only one district convention over the nearly 40 years I have been a pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  I was at the Synod’s Convention a month or so ago.  As I walked down the walkways of the assembly or the halls of the center or around the exhibit hall or went to meals or made my way in and out of the hotel, I was met with outstretched hands and words of welcome.  They were old friendships renewed, acquaintances deepened, and introductions made.  This is who we are.  We cannot simply be boiled down to stands we take or words we speak – however wonderful.  We are people made one in the waters of baptism, that through Christ we might be bound one to another in our walk together through the days to the eternal day.  We are a people who hear together the Word of Life read and preached to bring our hearts to repentance and to comfort us with the grace of forgiveness and to ground us in the hope that will not disappoint.  We are a people who kneel in confession and rise with a clear conscience as a people absolved to confess to those whom we have wounded and to hear the confession of those who wounded us and to absolve as we have been absolved, strengthened by the whole process.  We are a people who together receive the holy and precious Body and Blood of Christ to be fed and nourished for the journey of faith and to have placed upon our tongues the foretaste of the Feast to come.  This happens at every level of our life together and from it flow the unity and fellowship of a diverse people who walk together as the Church of Jesus Christ.   

Of course, every time a vote is taken there are winners and losers.  Too often those on the winning side sin on the side of pride and too often those on the losing side are focused upon their wounds of loss.  It need not be.  This is not about politics but about our faith and life together.  So we cannot afford to be held captive by the sides we have taken but meet together at the foot of the cross where there are no losers but only winners.  Elections have winners and losers to be sure but we do not elect the popular or powerful to honor them.  Instead we elect them to positions of service (most of them without any compensation whatsoever) and call upon them to make great sacrifice for the good of the whole and, indeed, for the sake of the world.  Behind every motion adopted and ballot cast is the great cause of Christ and His saving will and purpose.  For some things this is rather obvious and for others it is somewhat hidden.  But we do not need to be seen or liked in order to serve well the Lord and His kingdom.  Nor can we afford to set certain areas and arenas of service higher than others (recalling St. Paul’s analogy of the body where one part cannot say to the other you are not important or needed).

I hope that we left Tampa with these bonds of fellowship renewed.  Regardless of the resolutions that passed or did not or those elected or not, we came together as the Church to be the Church and we went home to do the same thing.  If Christ and His glory is our goal, our work will bear fruit and God will prosper this work for His purpose and we will have made the only difference that counts.


Carl Vehse said...

Not only do episcopally organized churches have business to conduct, overtures to be considered, resolutions to be offered and reports to be heard and people to be honored, but also a synod corporation (though not a church itself) of congregational and individual members also has similar duties, as you describe in subsequent paragraphs regarding the Missouri Synod of Lutheran congregations.

Furthermore, when defective or simply bad resolutions are passed by the corporate representatives of the various congregations, it should be the obligation of those who opposed those resolutions to continue to identify and discuss the problems with those resolutions and to correct or reverse those resolutions through the means provided by the Synod's corporate constitution and bylaws. One would also pray that the people involved in the CTCR and CCM would also perform their duties in minimizing any damage to the Missouti Synod's doctrinal or corporate operating positions.

Anonymous said...

The Synodical convention is simple a corporate shareholders meeting that has nothing to do with the Church, got it. Thanks Vehse.

Carl Vehse said...

Anony at 3:15 PM, where did you see that about shareholders?!? Not from my post. In fact the Missouri Synod is a non-profit 501c3 corporation.

Maybe this might be helpful.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Richard Strickert's opinions is that they are based on a poor understanding of the Synod's history and theology. He has read only a very limited amount in primary sources, relies chiefly on secondary sources (and only very few at that). Just take whatever he says with a large grain of salt and pity his ignorance. There's no point trying to respond to him, or make any attempt at engaging him. He is a broken record of error, lies and half-truths, and will not change.

Ignore the man.

I for one wish Larry Peters would ban him from participating here.