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Can We Recognize the Ministry of the Average Christian? (and help them accomplish it?)

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The church, is always in the midst of a storm… but safe in Him

Devotional Thought of the Day:

11  And to some, his ‘gift’ was that they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; 12  to knit God’s holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ, 13  until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and form the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NJB)

Hence the highest office is that of the ministry of the Word, with which all other offices are also conferred at the same time. Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry, whether it be the elders who do not labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17) or the rulers (Rom. 12:8) or the deacons (the office of service in a narrow sense) or whatever other offices the church may entrust to particular persons for special administration. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office.[1]  (Italics mine)

Everything that has been said above concerning the People of God is intended for the laity, religious and clergy alike. But there are certain things which pertain in a special way to the laity, both men and women, by reason of their condition and mission. Due to the special circumstances of our time the foundations of this doctrine must be more thoroughly examined. For their pastors know how much the laity contribute to the welfare of the entire Church. They also know that they were not ordained by Christ to take upon themselves alone the entire salvific mission of the Church toward the world. On the contrary they understand that it is their noble duty to shepherd the faithful and to recognize their ministries and charisms, so that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one mind.  (Italics mine)

Thirteen years ago, I was installed as the pastor of a Lutheran Church for the first time.  I had served those people for well over a year as a vicar, (basically a student pastor) while going through a time of transition.  I was glad for the 30 months or so of transition, it gave me a chance to work through the differences in theology and the difference in practical ministry.

There were two sermons were given that day, one directed toward me, another directed to me and the people of Shepherd of the Valley.  The latter, given by Greg Seltz was basically about the unity of pastor in people.  A unity that is found in our baptism, a unity that is seen in our mission, our apostolate.  It is not pastor over people or people over the pastor, but pastor and people.  It was a great sermon, and something we need to understand in every congregation, in every parish!

We don’t always get this correct.  Many people think the pastor is the evangelist, the only one that works in what the quote from Vatican II calls the salvific mission of the Church.  Pastors don’t save anyone, neither does the average person, but they are saved by Christ, through the work of the Church. 

We both have roles, even as Walther writes in Church and Ministry ( an incredible nook from the early days of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod).  He says they are to be recognized as ecclesiastical and sacred, as part of the ministry of the Word, supporting the pastoral office.  

Yet there are clergy and laity in both the Roman Catholic Church and in Lutheran churches that don’t understand this.  They don’t get that the ministry is God’s, entrusted to the entire church together.  It is our mutual responsibility, to reveal to the world the Love of God, and God’s desire to reconcile all to Him.   Each has their own role, each has their own God-given place in this ministry. 

Such a responsibility isn’t to be hoarded like Gollum’s precious ring or relegated to the pastor/priest alone, to provide a convenient scapegoat when the church shrinks.  Nor is this responsibility a duty, with checklists and deadlines.  It is best done, when all, so in awe of God’s love, work naturally, sharing it with those around them, and then bring them into the family of God.    Serving together, ministering together, we see the world turned upside down, amazed not just at our love for each other, but the love of God that pours through us, to them.

We, the church, pastor, and people, are here for the world. To reveal to them the greatest treasure, the greatest of blessings, which brings the news of the greatest love, and the greatest of peace.

It is time again, to work as the church, the people of God.

Lord, have mercy on us and help us be your body, reaching out to the world.  AMEN!

[1]Walther, C. Church and Ministry : Witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the Question of the Church and the Ministry. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1987.

Catholic Church. “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.  Italics mine

A Very Needed Lesson in Church Leadership..

Discussion Thought of the Day:
12  After Jesus had washed their feet, he put his outer garment back on and returned to his place at the table. “Do you understand what I have just done to you?” he asked. 13  “You call me Teacher and Lord, and it is right that you do so, because that is what I am. 14  I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another’s feet. 15  I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you. 16  I am telling you the truth: no slaves are greater than their master, and no messengers are greater than the one who sent them. 17  Now that you know this truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice!   John 13:12-17 (TEV)

12  Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” 13  Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14  so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” 15  Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” 16  “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17  “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18  But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20  These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
Matthew 15:12-20 (NLT)

Today how can anyone deny the fact that some men of the church are in a state of moral ruin?  The careerism and the temptation to worldliness that the successor of which Peter speaks so often are very real evils.   Some people imagine that they are products of the pope’s imagination.  Alas , clerical narcissism is not just a literary theme. The sickness can be deep-seated.  
In order to turn the tide, we must first reform our interior life. The church depends on the purity of our souls.”  (1)

The quote in blue comes from a book, basically an enhanced interview with a Roman Catholic Cardinal from Africa.  His story is a remarkable blend of suffering and hope, of wisdom born from times of real persecution, and a desire to see Christ.  This is the story of a man who came from a village in the middle of nowhere, became a priest and bishop in a place where his predecessors were jailed and murdered.  His dependence on God was tried in a way we can’t quite imagine, here safe and comfortable in the USA.

His critique of leadership in his church is accurate, and perhaps even more accurate in the Protestant church, and in my comparatively little corner of the church universal known as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  His presentation of where hope is found?  It is also I believe accurate.

If the church is spoken of as being immoral, most would assume we are talking about either sexual immorality or fiscal impropriety. I am not naive enough to deny that exists, but the Cardinal speaks of something just as devastating.  A sense of careerism, and a sense of clerical narcissism pervades the church today.

We see the results in the church, as parishes are closing, and others in steep decline.  Where men are not entering programs that lead to ordination. Some will blame these things on finances, others on the decline of births among sections of the population. Some will say the decline is because they don’t appear to have the right sense of mission, or the appearance of the church, how it looks and sounds is not up to an ideal.

This is a sickness, and it is not imaginary.  These attempts to fix it are attempts to clean up the appearance, to clean up the exterior, while the defiled nature is left intact. That is why a pastor or priest can easily fall into the sin of careerism, can quickly abandon the basin and towel and find the office and title, far away from the parish so appealing.  (though we might on occasion return to give somone else a break)

So where is the hope?  Cardinal Sarah pointed out these challenges given St Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis, and their focus on the interior life. To realize that the church does depend on the purity of souls.  Not pure by their own work, but by a interior life that is simply depending on Christ Jesus.

There in meditating on His work as we are united to Him in Baptism,; it begins the cleaning fo the inside.  There as we kneel and are given the body and blood in the Eucharist, we find ourselves being cleansed still.  There as we deal with our brokenness and confess it, as we hear God absolving us, we find that the old nature has been nailed to the cross.  That the old Adam was drowned in those baptismal waters, that we are free and able to die to self, to give our bodies over as living sacrifices.

This is where the church finds it hope.  Not in men who are pure by the sweat of their own brow, but by men who are broken, yet, who find themselves at the cross. Who are drawn to Jesus who is lifted up, and find themselves being healed, who realize that healing is needed by those around them.  The purity found in walking with Christ, in meditating on that which He has promised and accomplished.

The interior life is not something of our own making or sustained by our internal strength.  It is the work of poiema found in Eph. 210, the work of art created in our lives by Christ. That is where the church finds its hope, for in shepherds who are so broken, who are the chief of sinners, if in them we see God at work, then the church has hope. As in their own healing they begin to wash others feet, as in their healing they bring healing to others the hope is magnified.  The church then hears hope, It comes to know and share that hope with those who are around them.

Our church needs to be defibrillated, but that can only happen as hearts stone hearts are broken and removed, and hearts of flesh, filled with the Holy Sprit as God promised He would.

It is knowing the promise of God, the love and mercy we find as Christ is revealed, and depending on it, that we will find the hope for the church.  May its shepherds learn to cry out what they teach others to.cry out.  LORD HAVE MERCY!

(1)  God or Nothing   Robert Cardinal Sarah, Ignatius Press 2015  pg.100

Ministry, Chalices and the People of God

Devotional Thought of the DayFeatured image
33  I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. 1  And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:33-11:1 (NLT)

15 Even if we grant the freedom to use one kind or both, how can they make the withholding of one kind mandatory? But the church cannot arrogate to itself the freedom to call Christ’s ordinances matters of indifference.  (1)

On Saturday, I wrote a blog that stirred up a bit of controversy among some Lutherans. The proposition was simply, we share our hope in Christ Jesus because we are transformed to love others, as we live in Christ.  I started with the opposite corollary; to not share the good news which gives us the ability to trust in God for our life, for our salvation, is nothing less than a violation of God’s plan for us not to murder, and the plan that we should love people.

Such was on my mind this morning as I went through my devotional reading. I came to the section of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession where the discussion was about the Lord’s Supper, and that people should be able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.   This was a bone of contention back in the early days of the Reformation, and some in the Catholic Church mandated that the chalice, the blood of Christ was only for the ordained clergy.  It was a bad enough that some forbid lay people the right to do so.

Not for a good reason, (say perhaps they didn’t have enough wine), or so the Lutheran writers tell us. The confessions make the case that this was because of a religious caste system.  That somehow those who were ordained or pledged to a religious life were different, and the chalice was restricted to them.

BTW – this blog is not to question that practice (the Catholic Church has since clarified it), but a practice that is becoming popular in some parts of the Lutheran Church today.

Instead of denying the people of God the chalice, they deny the people of God the ministry entrusted to the church, the ministry of reconciliation. The ministry that Paul defined simply as pleading with people to “be reconciled to God.”   For some reason, some clergy and some lay people would deny this grace, the ability to see God work through them, to lay people.

It’s not their responsibility, some claimed.  Or you can’t make us do it!  If we read your words and feel guilty, well then you are using the law to make us do it by guilt, another claimed. Ultimately the justification was that the ministry of evangelization belongs only to the clergy.  So you can’t tell us that we have to do it, after all, the clergy doesn’t do it

And people who are broken, who desperately need to know the love of God, are denied it.

Ultimately it comes down to

1)  We don’t see the grace of God, His mercy, peace and love to be so overwhelming, to be so healing that we realize that everyone needs it.

or

2)  We don’t love them enough to respond to their brokenness.

In both instances, the issue isn’t clergy versus laity.  It is simply sin.

We conveniently justify ourselves by laying the burden on pastors and priests, on religious workers and those who are “special”.  It would be like seeing a woman bleeding on the side of the road, and saying, “I can’t help, but there are doctor’s and nurses, paramedics and others trained for this.” as you walk away without even dialing 911.

If this post is causing some stress, some tension in you, if you are getting angry at it, or coming up with ways to justify inaction, ways to define this as something other than a sin of failing to do what one should, I ask you to consider where that feeling is coming from.

Is it a reaction to theology that you don’t like, or

Is it the old Adam rising up again, trying to justify not doing what you know you should?

The idea of denying the ministry to all is wrong.  Yes, there are ministries, preaching and administering the sacraments, which are the responsibility of those ordained to do that work.  But Paul wasn’t writing to them when he wrote about imitating him as he imitated Jesus.  He was talking to the entire church.  And the context is clear – that some might be won to Christ, freed from sin. That is evangelistic, that is the ministry of reconciliation, that is the work God has prepared for those in Christ.

Look around you, see those broken by sin, oppressed by guilt and shame, traumatized and in need of someone to love them enough to reach out to them, and give them hope.

You are there, for this moment… reach out with the love of Christ.  And find God’s grace and worksmanship bringing about what God has planned.. and find yourself more in awe of God’s grace!

Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 238). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

The Ministry of the Church, a Shared Experience…

Devotional Thought of the Day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4  There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. 5  There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. 6  There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service. 7  The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (TEV)

11  It was he who “gave gifts to people”; he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. 12  He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ. 13  And so we shall all come together to that oneness in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God; we shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ’s full stature. 14  Then we shall no longer be children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of the teaching of deceitful people, who lead others into error by the tricks they invent. 15  Instead, by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head. 16  Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love. Ephesians 4:11-16 (TEV)

Hence the highest office is that of the ministry of the Word, with which all other offices are also conferred at the same time. Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry, whether it be the elders who do not labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17) or the rulers (Rom. 12:8) or the deacons (the office of service in a narrow sense) or whatever other offices the church may entrust to particular persons for special administration. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office.[1]

There is often a division in the church that is both unnecessary,

It is said in different ways, but it is the division between laity and clergy.  It has gotten so bad at times, that churches haa abandoned the idea of setting apart of people for service.  Or it has gotten to the other extreme, and the ideas of pastor as CEO (or the older idea of Herr Pastor) comes into play, where all the authority is vested in the clergy.

It’s not supposed to be this way, it is the work together that is the work of the kingdom, there are different role, though some are more visible, or have responsibilities that differ, but the work is done together.  The clergy and the laity are together holy and sacred.  Neither should Lord it over the other, or act condescendingly toward each other.

You see, we have the same goal, to mature in our trust in God, to have our faith “grow” in Christ.  We come to know His love and celebrate His love together, as we share in HIs word, as we are His community gathered around the sacred times where those promises are revealed and made known to be ours.  Theses sacraments require both, pastor and parish, priest and penitential people,

I love how CFW Walther, and early leader in my denomination, phrases it in blue above.

Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office.

We are to regard all who serve in ministering to others as ecclesiastical and sacred – part of the church and those celebrated.  We all serve God in the church, we are all set apart to serve the Lord, and our actions are part of His work (see Eph. 2:10)

Do the actions differ?  Yes.  Do the responsibilities?  Of course. But we share in this ministry of reconciling people to God.  We share in bringing them to a place of healing, a place of grace. It is our ministry, not as individual, but as one church.

May we concentrate more on the work, and waste less time on power squabbles and condescension.

Lord Have mercy on us!

 

 

[1]Walther, C. Church and Ministry : Witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the Question of the Churhc and the Ministry. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1987.

Ministry is not a profession… it is the vocation of all….

 

 11  Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14  Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16  He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)

Listen to me carefully and echo my words: Christianity is Love; getting to know God is a most positive experience; concern for others—the apostolate—is not an extra luxury, the task of a few. Now that you know this, fill yourself with joy, because your life has acquired a completely different meaning; and act in consequence. (1)

Within Christianity, there are two opinions about ministry.  The division occurs in nearly every denomination, it doesn’t matter whether you are Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, non-denom, Anglican/

There are those that believe ministry is the domain of the those who are trained professionals, that are set apart to be ministers.  This isn’t a theological issue, really, but one where we take the concepts of the world and interpose them on church.   It also reduces ministry to what goes on between 9-11:58 on Sundays, and maybe 6-8:30 on Wednesday evenings.  Ministry is more than the message delivered, more than the music sung.  

The other view is that which is seen above in the quote from Ephesians, and the quote from Josemaria Escriva. This puts ministry into all our hands, into every moment of our lives.  It is as much the parent, lovingly disciplining a child, a co-worker, taking time to pray with a stressed out friend, a person sacrificing their place in line at the market, so a hurried mom can get her milk and get her children home, a couple, donating their furniture to the Salvation Army, rather than selling it at a yard sale, priori to moving; as it is the pastor proclaiming Christ crucified.

I used Ephesians this morning for a reason, some say it is translated badly – that somehow it is the clergy ministry to train people, and that ministry itself is what builds up the body of Christ.  But look at the part I italicised – it says the exact opposite – that each of us has our own special work, each has our own vocation of service – and it is when we are all “at work” serving each other and our neighbors, it is then the church works.  It is then, Josemaria would say – that our life has a completely different meaning – and a real consequence.  

Josemaria Escriva makes another point, that we need to consider.  Simply put, such ministry is begins, it is generated and empowered by the love of God.  It’s not about be commanded to do this – the compelling nature of service comes from God commissioning us, ordaining us, sanctifying us (if you don’t know these church words – simply put – God sets the appointments we have to serve others)  to serve.  It is a matter of love, not obedience.   

So you are a minister.  You are the beloved of God whom He has set into the world with a special purpose.  To love people by serving them.  When you do, the joy will be immense ( as may be the pain)

What are you waiting for – turn off your monitor and go love people as Christ did… for that is the way we serve….

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 997-1000). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Laity and the Clergy – proclaiming the gospel together! Evangelical Catholic IX

English: Woodcut of the Augsburg Confession, A...

English: Woodcut of the Augsburg Confession, Article VII, “Of the Church”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day:

Thus the priest, like the bishop, is first a preacher, teacher, catechist, and sanctifier before he is an administrator. Priests are leaders of their parishes, as bishops are of their dioceses. But in a fully embodied Evangelical Catholicism, deacons and other qualified lay members of the Church will handle more and more of the routine business of parish and diocesan administration. The pastors— bishops who are true successors of the apostles, and priests who form a presbyteral college with and under the bishop (as the bishops form an episcopal college with and under the Bishop of Rome, the pope)— have more urgent matters to which they must attend. Yet the lay vocation, as understood by Evangelical Catholicism, is not primarily one of Church management, in which only a small minority of laity will be involved. The lay vocation is evangelism: of the family, the workplace, and the neighborhood, and thus of culture, economics, and politics. As Evangelical Catholicism rejects the clericalism by which the lay members of the Church were simply to pray, pay, and obey (or, as a nineteenth-century aristocratic English variant had it, to hunt, shoot, and entertain), so it rejects a clericalized notion of lay vocation as primarily having to do with working in the parish office or diocesan chancery. 34 There is important work to be done in those venues, and lay Catholics can and ought to do more of it, thus freeing priests and bishops for the work they were ordained to do. But the primary lay vocation, as John Paul II taught in the 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, is to bring the Gospel into all of those parts of “the world” to which the laity has greater access than those who are ordained: the family, the mass media, the business community, the worlds of culture, and the political arena, for example. (1)

I’ve mentioned before that I am sort of reviewing this book – Evangelical Catholic – slowing – digesting the differences between how its author describes the changes manifesting now in Roman Catholicism – and what I see in the present and in the hsotiry of Lutheranism – which was originally called – “evangelical catholic”.    Not as a devotional persay, but it ends up being so for me.

Today is no different – as I think about the deacons I train  (historically assistants in the college – as they were/are ordained )and about the work of the people here in my church.  Wiegel’s point about their having a primary vocation of evangelist is an awesome point – I highly agree – and it is their primary vocation, as they bring the gospel into their homes, into their friends homes, into their workplaces and the conversations they have out there in the not so “real world”.  

Some would argue that the proclamation of the gospel is the role of the clergy and indeed it is.   But it isn’t only the clergy’s work – it is the work of the family of God – YHWH & Son’s (and daughters!)  The pastors and priests (and bishops and deacons ) preachin a way that the laity comprehend the grace of God, which the Holy Spirit actively embodies in every moment of their lives – bringing joy and peace into some of the most challenging situations that they, and those around them, encounter.   It is there – that the gospel is shown through their lives, through their loves, through the hope they have – even in the midst of situations that would be considered hopeless.   Places that wouldn’t necessarily be a place where my black shirt and collar are welcome.   

But that is a harder calling for the priest and pastor, to preach in that way.  It is a more demanding way, is a sense from the people who sit in the pews.

It is, and isn’t. 

For Evangelism isn’t a duty, it is an act of love.  It is realizing that what has brought healing and peace to our broken lives will bring healing and peace to others lives.  Such healing and peace – in the midst of such brokenness, that we cannot bear to see those who are broken in such a way continue in it.   In love we come to them – to help them with their burdens, to calm their anxious souls, to bring healing to shattered lives and shattered relationships.  That means – that most of the time – it is the laity that see it first – that come alongside them – that bear them to us, were we continue the word and sacrament minsitry together.  

It’s not the laity or the clergy – it is the people of God – as He has called and equipped and sent us…. to bring His love. 

This is a good thing!   A very incredible thing!  God using us all…. how awesome!

(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 80). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Pastorphobia: a common anxiety until…

Devotional thought of the day:

You see him walking down the hall of a hospital, a friendly smile greets you as you increase you pace walking away.  You wonder who he is going to visit, and you might even hastily utter a prayer for the poor person.  (if he walks into your room, you begin to panic – big time!)    If you see him walking up to your where you live, you quickly inventory your life, asking “what did I do wrong now…” as you struggle to remember where you put the family Bible, so you can sweep everything off the coffee table and put the Bible in a prominent visible place.  (as you open the door, you wonder – did I blow all the dust off of it!)

I have often wondered why people wait until things are deathly serious before they call their pastor.  Why do they wait until there is no other hope.  ( I am convinced that Obiwan Kenobi must have been a pastor!) Until the marriage is broken beyond repair (or so they think) until the grip of sin has choked the life out?  Some will say that, “but pastor – you are too busy,”  or “it isn’t that serious,” or my favorite, “I didn’t want you to find out I was mad at God”.

Is the issue truly fear?  Sometimes – but I would beg you – never be afraid of your pastor – realize he is there to help alleviate fear, to calm distraught anxious hearts.  Our calling is to remind you that the Lord is with you, that He desires to bring peace and restore that which is broken.  Sometimes that includes physical healing, sometimes it means surviving the trauma, and yeah, sometimes it means preparing our families for our death, and helping them know – we know God’s coming to bring us home.  (If the latter is inevitable, isn’t it better to have someone walk you there – and support you and your family through it?)

Remember – St Paul talks about Jesus giving you pastor-teachers as a blessing – to help you grow and mature, to keep you stable in your faith, to help you know the peace of God, and His presence.

I’ll close with this thought – part of the passage I am preaching on this weekend…

50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. “     Isaiah 50:4 (ESV) 

Let your pastor and priest do this very thing, let them use the word to sustain you… that then you can do the same for others.

we cry, “Lord have mercy!” and therefore Lord, help us to realize those whom through you pour out your mercy and love and peace upon us!  AMEN!

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