Archive for January 2013
The best way to express it is, “I am baptized!” It’s a present reality. Speaking historically, of course, one can say, as I do, personally, “I was baptized,” in that it actually happened on Holy Trinity Sunday, May 31, 1953, at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church on the North Dakota prairie some four miles north of Niagara, North Dakota, at the hand of my father, then pastor of that congregation. Though it happened nearly 60 years ago, however, it is still a present reality, so “I am baptized.”
It was not something I did. It happed to me and it has shaped reality for me ever since. My parents brought me up in the faith, teaching me the Word of God. The Lord Jesus has brought into my life so many people to show me His grace (my wife, Faith, being the most important) and to flesh out for me what it means that I am baptized. All of this is pure gift of God in Jesus! All of this comes from living each day in the God-given confidence, I am baptized.
How does our Lord’s apostle put it?
Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His (Romans 6:3-5).
Let’s parse this a bit. You “have been baptized.” It’s a gift. It happened to you. It is essentially God’s doing, no matter what age you were when it happened. What happened? What did God do? “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death…” It happened to us. God buried us with Christ. Why? So that “as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” This brings the great promise for all so united with Christ: “if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” That’s what we are called to believe. All of us have to die. But in Jesus Christ, God is in the business of raising the dead. In fact, this is the only game in town. This is what God does – He raises the dead, in Jesus, all who are united to Him.
How does that work out in daily life? As we remember, I am baptized. Many of you know the catechism:
What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. (Small Catechism IV:11ff).
Christian living truly is a matter of death and life! It’s a daily dying to sin, and a daily living in the forgiveness of sins, raised to new life each day. Again, the Word of God:
We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:9-11).
One of God’s means for keeping us in His grace as His baptized children is the practice of confession and absolution. We confess our sin before God. In other words, we agree with the judgment of God’s law that we are dying sinners. That law puts us to death. And then, remembering God’s business is to raise the dead, we hear the Word of absolution as God’s pardon for Christ’s sake, as God’s Word to raise the dead, to call us back to life in Christ. It happened when we were baptized: we died with Christ and were raised to life. It happens over and over again when we confess sin and hear the Word of forgiveness: we are raised to life again with Christ. It is simply a repetition of what God did when we were baptized.
It happens in the public confession and absolution in our worship. It happens when Christians forgive one another in the name and for the sake of Christ. It happens in pastoral care, particularly in private confession and absolution. We die to sin and are raised to life in Christ as we hear in the voice of another the voice of Christ, I forgive you all your sins. The Lord Himself is delivering it. For we have died and lived again, as we each can say, I am baptized! And then we are called to give away to others the same mercy we have received in Christ. He never runs out, for there is always more.
Yes, it’s a matter of death and life – in Christ!
Herbert C. Mueller
LCMS First Vice President
Long called “the singing church,” The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) rejoices in confessing Jesus Christ through song. Delving more deeply into this, roughly 40 LCMS hymn writers are tucked away at the Toddhall Retreat Center, Columbia, Ill, learning how to join text and tune robustly for the benefit of the church-at-large. The conference, “The Sung Confession: Lutheran Hymnwriting in the 21st Century,” which began Sunday, Jan. 27, is a venue for education and encouragement for LCMS hymnwriters as they develop poetically sound and evangelically rich hymns for use in our churches.
The hymnwriters’ time together is framed according to the Church’s orders for daily prayer (Martins, Responsive Prayer, Evening Prayer, Compline) with time for reflection, study, visiting and singing. Dr. Joseph Herl, associate professor of music at Concordia University Nebraska, presented on “What Works and What Doesn’t: Lessons from the Hymnal.” With several hymns published in Lutheran Service Book, the Rev. Stephen Starke offered thoughts on “One Perspective on the Craft of Writing a Hymn Text.” Others will discuss the topics of “Nuts and Bolts of Hymn Construction,” “The Art and Science of Translation,” and more.
Conference attendee Mrs. Rebekah Curtis (Worden, Ill.) hopes the conference will become a regular part of the LCMS’ Life Together. “The Church is a living thing,” she noted, “and hymnody is something that naturally springs from the people of God.”
Up-and-coming hymnwriters will also have time to consult with published writers, collaborating on faithful hymnody that points to Christ. “What is more important to remember is that hymns are the sung confession of the church, teachers of God’s people, the book of doctrine for the laity,” noted Starke.
Stay tuned to reporter.lcms.org and the printer Reporter for more information on the conference.
That’s our theme for the convention of the Synod set to take place here in St. Louis, July 20-25, 2013. The Southern Illinois District of our Synod will be our host district as we come together to worship, to study God’s Word and to discuss various aspects of our life together as the Synod. Whatever our past, we have been “baptized for this moment” (see Acts 2:38-39). We are members of Christ, incorporated in His body, baptized in His name. He turns our faces to the future for He forgives, renews, restores and sends us for witness, mercy and life together.
If you are going to be anywhere near St. Louis the evening of Saturday, July 20, come on by the America’s Center in downtown St. Louis for the opening service. If you are a delegate of any kind, we are praying for you and seeking to prepare this opportunity for you to serve the Lord and to serve your fellow members of the Synod by your participation. As the convention approaches, you will receive mailings and emails from the President’s Office to help you prepare. Delegates should look for this material soon.
We ask you as well to keep the convention in your prayers. Pray that God would give unity in His Word both to the convention and to the Synod as a whole. Some time ago I read August Suelfow’s biography of C. F. W. Walther, Servant of the Word, in which he has this quote from H. C. Schwann, who followed Walther as president of the Synod in 1878:
What has kept us together until now was not our Constitution, as good as it is, not the personality of those who bear the highest synodical offices. No, it was something radically different, something which God Himself has given us. This was the unity of spirit and faith. We remain together outwardly because we are one inwardly. Because of this, districts, congregations and individuals can never be careful enough in whatever they are doing to maintain the bond of unity. Even though they may have the best intentions in undertaking certain items, if these are not properly thought through, and are not properly considered on the backdrop of love to others and with due respect to the welfare and furtherance of the whole [this unity cannot be maintained]. As long as we by God’s grace remain one in heart and soul through the Word and faith, our bond of fellowship at the continued existence of the Synod will not be seriously challenged. If this [spirit] is ever lost, then no constitution will coerce those who rebel, and the resulting cooperation will be of no value. (p. 133)
In that light, here is a prayer for our Synod: “O Lord God, our heavenly Father, you have given Your one and only Son to be our Savior by His death and resurrection and have gathered the Church by means of Your Word and Spirit. You have brought us together by our baptism into Christ’s body. You send the Spirit to renew and refresh Your Church. Look with favor, we pray, on the congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, whose representatives are meeting in convention this summer. Strengthen our leaders so that we may be faithful to Your Word and zealous for witness and mercy in Your name. Heal any divisions in our life together by calling each of us back to Your Word, to the preached Gospel and the Sacraments done according to Christ’s Word. Keep our pastors, teachers and all our church workers focused on You. Give us a passion for Your Gospel and for people, that we may do everything possible to bring Jesus to them in Word, at the font and His table, through teaching and pastoral care wherever they are. Make our people bold witnesses of the hope You have given them in Jesus. Guide the convention delegates in their decisions so that everything Synod does will support our congregations in witness, mercy and their life together and give glory to Your most holy name, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.”
+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President
Yet by the mid-1960s an elaborate system of mission stations had been established, complete with electrical generation facilities, repair shops, even a wood shop for furniture so both the missionaries and the Good News Lutheran Church could have tables and chairs for classrooms and for the missionary homes. Hospitals and schools were established… The missionary task operated along the lines of Witness, Mercy, Life Together — body and soul care.
The largest and strongest partner churches of the Missouri Synod are the ones where we had the largest and longest presence. Walking along side someone over the long term is much more effective than short term endeavors.
Still much potential and much work in PNG. For instance, the GLC-PNG hymnal in Tok Pisin and Enga has been out of print for 25 years. The entire Book of Concord has never been translated into either of these languages. Yet the congregations are taught the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Small Catechism.
Governor Ipatas requested that the LCMS send teachers to teach in the schools, and for missionaries to return to help shore up the institutions established by the LCMS 40-50 years ago. Many people in PNG government and business were the products of Lutheran schools originally established by the Missouri Synod.
The GLC-PNG is a product of the LCMS mission endeavors. The people of the GLC-PNG clearly see that The Lord sent the Missouri Synod to bring them the Gospel. Let us remember how The Lord used us and look to the future on how he may continue to use us.
- Posted in Tokyo, Japan, by Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
After traveling from the Enga Highlands to Mt. Hagen, then flying to Port Moresby on the coast, we had the opportunity to meet with the Governor Ipatas of the Enga Provence. He was in Port Moresby to meet with Parliament. The governor was pleased with the LCMS’ recent visit and asked us to consider sending more missionaries and teachers to Papua New Guinea.
Currently, Governor Ipatas is overseeing the construction of the Enga Teachers College. The governor was educated in LCMS mission schools and has been a strong proponent of education connected to the church ever sense.
It was a privilege and honor that the the governor took time to meet with us.
- posted 22 January 2013 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver in Hong Kong.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone