Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Blest be the ties that bind. . .
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.