Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Day Will Come. . .

For much of my youth, I have thought about or desired to be a pastor.  When I entered St. John's College (Winfield), I joined more than 30 other teenagers just turned 18 -- all of us seeking the same goal.  In the midst of it all, the LCMS nearly imploded with a war of the Bible that ended up bleeding off 120,000 people and nearly killing a seminary -- a successful effort to maintain the truth of the faith and its authoritative Word..  That, along with Greek and Hebrew, killed off the dreams of the bulk of that class but, in the wisdom of God, I was not among them.  When the Seminary in Ft. Wayne commended me to the Church and I received a call, the education came to an end but not the formation and training of a pastor. With the trials of a congregation divided and the patience of some folks who clearly deserved better than me, the title "pastor" became a real vocation lived out within the life of God's people.  Now, some 47 years after I showed up in Winfield to begin the journey, I find that I have forgotten who I am apart from this calling.  So when people ask me about retirement, the panic sets in.  Who am I and what will I do if I am not a pastor serving a parish?

That is one side of the coin. . . my desire to be a pastor and my life as a pastor.  The other side of the coin is the ministry itself.  The thousand of so babies, children, youth, and adults baptized at my hand, the thousands upon thousands of faithful communed from my hand at the Lord's altar, the hundred and hundreds of youth and adults confirmed in their baptismal faith before me, the tens of thousands of sermons preached for ordinary Sundays, festival days, and in pastoral care to couples being married and loved ones being buried . . . these are the things that I love and love to do.  These are the things I still do week after week (better with experience and a varying degree of expertise and accomplishment).  And I am not ready to give it up -- even if there are some who think it may be time.  I have trouble with the whole idea of retirement.

Some long for the day of retirement and count it down by the year, month, week, day, and hour.  Some dream about the day when they will no longer be pastor.  Some hope for the day when they will be free to do what they want (as if being a pastor is not it).  Some long for the day when they can do nothing.  Not me.  I am not counting down but rather terrified of the day when the calendar of active service will end (whether due to desire, health, age, infirmity, or family pressure).  The truth is I love what I do.

Just a few thoughts after hearing somebody extol the wonder of a life without a clerical collar.  I looked across the table at a guy a year older than I am and he whispered what I was thinking. . . not me.  Not me. . .


Anonymous said...

I too love what you do, Pastor. You are a basic part of my day.
I was a Deacon for 12 years and had the honor of preaching at a small church for a single year before my body failed me. I was never called and ordained but that year of preaching opened up the power of the Liturgy, the teaching of the Small Catechism to all and the importance of Vocations to me as never before.
Your blog is now a basic part of my day. Keep up the Good Work for as long as you can. Your body will fail you all too soon. We need you.
God Bless the Preacher.
Timothy Carter, simple country Deacon.

Anonymous said...

If Pastors want to retire, I guess they can. Retirement is really a modern idea. As a middle age Pastor, I agree with you Pr. Peters. Of course we have seen where Pastor Emeritus can make things difficult for the 'new' guy and all Emeritus should go to another parish. But basically, we work and do our duty until we can't anymore. We may slow down, work less hours/less pay, as long as the needs of the people are being met. Whether we love it or burdened with it, we don't stop. It is a vocation, an Office. I can no more retire as a Pastor, than I can retire from being a man or father or husband. Faithful men in the Office of the Holy Ministry/Divine Call do not have a exit plan that doesn't involve a death (unless someone quits or leaves for cause.)

ginnie said...

You've been given a gift and a gift is meant to be kept, not returned to the Giver. You will always be a pastor in the full sense of the word. Don't even think otherwise. God bless.
ginnie <{{{{><