Archive for March 2015
Dr. Robert Bugbee, President of Lutheran Church Canada (LCC), explains how the LCC until 1988 was a district of the Missouri Synod. In 1854, the Missouri Synod had its first congregation in Canada. The mission work in Canada expanded so rapidly that the Missouri Synod created the Ontario District in 1879. In 1988, the LCC became an autonomous, self-governing church body. Since that time, the LCC and the LCMS work together closely. In recent years, the LCC and LCMS have engaged in cooperative mission work in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Cambodia. The LCC also does mission work in the Ukraine.
President Bugbee, Dr. Albert Collver, Rev. Ted Krey met to hear an update about the LCC and their mission work, and to discuss joint LCC and LCMS work in Latin America. Since 1997, the LCC has been engaged in mission work in Nicaragua. In 2008, the Iglesia Luterana Synod de Nicaragua (ILSN) was founded. In May 2014, The LCMS and Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) signed a protocol agreement May 13 in Chinandega, Nicaragua, with the Lutheran Church—Synod of Nicaragua (Iglesia Luterana Sinodo de Nicaragua, or ILSN) that allows for an expansion of mission work in the Central American country. The agreement outlines how the LCMS, LCC and ILSN will communicate, coordinate and work together in this mission endeavor. The agreement is not altar and pulpit fellowship, but a working understanding on how the three parties will interact. The meeting in Winnipeg, Canada, was to discuss the cooperative work of the LCC and the LCMS.
Pictured: Rev. Theodore Krey, LCMS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean; Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, President of the Lutheran Church of Canada; Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations; Deaconess Cherie Auger, missionary to Nicaragua / Honduras; Rev. Edward Auger, missionary to Nicaragua / Honduras; Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC Director of Missions & Social Ministry Services.
Dr. Neitzel and Rev. Auger discuss the work in Nicaragua and Honduras. The Augers are LCMS missionaries who are seconded to the LCC for their work in Latin America. The three-way agreement between the LCC-LCMS-ILSN provided the framework for this joint work.
President Robert Bugbee gives his greetings to his brothers and sisters in Christ from the LCMS.
Both the LCC and the LCMS thank the Lord for our close relationship and we pray that the Lord of the harvest would bless our joint work together around the world.
—Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations
The Service of Praise and Thanksgiving for Ronald Raymond Feuerhahn was held on 17 March 2015 at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus at Concordia Seminary, where Dr. Feuerhahn served for 22 years. The press announcement about his funeral can be found here on Concordia Seminary’s website. Several years ago, the students of Dr. Feuerhahn prepared a Festschrift for him titled, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? (This book is available as an ePub and on Kindle from CPH.) Of course, the death of every saint is precious in the eyes of the Lord, but when a teacher of the church enters his eternal rest the effect is felt on a broader scale. A teacher of the church affects his students, his follower teachers, the pastors of the church, and indirectly all the congregation members who had pastors taught by him. Because of this effect, the Scriptures urge the church to take caution in appointing teachers of the church (“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1).
Unlike the Roman Catholic church, Lutherans do not pray to the dead. However, there is a proper remembrance of those who died in the faith, a thanksgiving for the work that the Lord has done in their lives, and even an imitation of how those in the faith who died lived their lives. Children commonly do this by imitating their parents, just as students do their teachers. Hermann Sasse, in Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Volume III (available from CPH in hardcover and on Kindle) wrote about remembering the dead. In his essay “The Remembrance of the Dead in the Liturgy,” Section 8, Sasse writes:
“Let me say a word about that which is specifically important for our death-filled century. The remembrance of the dead needs to be revived in the church. It is one of the bases of the powerful attraction of Catholicism in our day that it has preserved this remembrance, while Protestantism, including Lutheranism, has lost it. Therefore, despite all assurances to the contrary, Protestantism has to a greater or lesser extent become a this-side-of-eternity religion. It was the task of the Reformation to dissolve the symbiosis which in Catholicism brought about a point of contact between the Christian faith and pagan presuppositions about the hereafter. The result of this paganism in the church’s faith and practice has been all too evident; it is no accident that the Reformation began precisely on an All Saints’ Eve (October 31, 1517) with a protest against he fearful commerce which was designed to accomplish the salvation of souls.”
Dr. Sasse goes on to point out how Dr. Martin Luther’s liturgical reforms of the church refocused the church on the purpose of Holy Communion, “forgiven sinners who in the reception of the Lord’s true body and blood are made one with all members of the church, all the saints in heaven and on earth, as the Body of Christ.”
On Sunday morning, in the Proper Preface in the Communion liturgy, the pastor says, “…therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify your glorious name ever more saying:” Then the congregation sings the Sanctus, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth…” Although dead separates us from the saints in heaven, we are untied together in the body of Christ. Sasse concludes his letter, “It is my hope that the considerations of this letter, for which you waited so long, and longer than you should have, will contribute to the clarification of our thoughts about one of the most difficult theological questions and help us rightly to exercise the church’s ministry of consolation in a cheerless world.”
[Note: This homily, drawn from Isaiah 53:1-12, was preached in chapel at the International Center of the LCMS on Friday, March 6, 2015. + Herbert Mueller, LCMS First Vice President]
It is almost as though Isaiah was there, in the background, watching the events unfold that Friday morning on Calvary. In some mysterious way, Isaiah, by the Holy Spirit, can see it all happen, and write it down 700 years before hand.
- Despised and rejected by men — as they mocked him, “if you are the Christ, come down from the cross!”
- A man of sorrows — as the women on the Via Dolorosa were weeping for Him.
- Despised, we esteemed Him not — as the world insults or ignores Him.
- Oppression and judgment carried Him away — at the farce called a trial before Caiaphas, then Pilate, then Herod, then Pilate again.
- He is cut off from the land of the living.
- They made His grave with the wicked, and a rich man — as they buried Him in Joseph’s tomb.
- Though He had done no violence — as Pilate washed His hands of Him.
- Numbered with the transgressors — crucified between two thieves, but He prays, “Father forgive them…”
- He poured out His soul in death and bore the sin of many — as He said, “no one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18).
So many details. So much that Isaiah wrote down ahead of time. There can be no doubt that this is true prophecy. No one went back and wrote this into Isaiah after the fact. In 1947 they discovered the Qumran Scrolls, with an almost complete copy of Isaiah, a copy made 200 years before Christ, containing these exact words.
God gives Isaiah the privilege to stand, together with all believers, at the foot of the cross. It is holy ground. Indeed, as we watch, we cannot help but think of our sins.
We put Him there.
We despised Him. We esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. He was wounded for OUR transgressions. We are the sheep gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way.
“Who has believed what they heard from us?” Isaiah asked. Who is the suffering servant of the Lord? Who will it be? They must have wondered at Isaiah’s time.
Like the Ethiopian Eunuch, on his way back to his Queen, when the Spirit told Philip the Evangelist to join his chariot, Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” “How can I,” he replied, “unless someone guides me.”
And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this (from Isaiah 53): “Like a sheep that was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this? About himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:32-35)
For what this Scripture reveals in Christ is much MORE than simply the details of prophecy ahead of time. God moves Isaiah to lay out the WHY. Notice the interplay of HE and WE, and HIS and OURS, as I read this portion again:
- Surely HE has borne OUR griefs, and carried OUR sorrows.
- Yet WE esteemed HIM stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.
- But HE was wounded for OUR transgressions.
- HE was crushed for OUR iniquities.
- Upon HIM was the punishment that brought US peace.
- With HIS stripes WE are healed.
- All WE like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
This is where our wonder and amazement increase beyond measure. All OUR sins are on HIM. He was oppressed. He was afflicted — FOR US.
But here is the greatest wonder of all! Isaiah says:
“It was the WILL of the LORD to crush Him. He, [the LORD God Himself,] has put Him to grief!” (Isaiah 53:10)
Now picture Jesus in Gethsemane. He knows this prophecy. He knows what it means. “Yet not my will,” he prays to the Father, “but Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42).
THIS is the great good news Philip spoke, the Good News we now proclaim, this great exchange that happens with Jesus.
Luther writes of this passage: “He was punished for the sake of our peace. Note the wonderful exchange. One man sins, another pays the penalty. One deserves peace, the other has peace. The one who should have peace, has punishment, while the one who should be punished has peace. … This is the supreme and chief article of faith, that our sins, placed on Christ, are not ours any longer; and again, the peace is not Christ’s, but Christ makes it ours.” (American Edition of Luther’s Works, Vol. 17, p. 225).
And so it is. “By His knowledge, shall the righteous One, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, for He shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11).
Isaiah shows us our sins, not on us, but put on Christ. So we are called to turn away from self, and to be carried over to Christ, “because he poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors, for he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12).
Yes, this text is holy ground for us …
- And we are filled with penitent sorrow for our part: we put Christ on the cross.
- But by the Spirit of God we have humble gratitude that the Lord laid all our sins on Him, that He was wounded for us, that with His stripes we are healed.
Even when you don’t feel it! Hold this Word close.
In the name of Jesus — Amen.
On Thursday and Friday (March 5-6), Concordia Publishing House hosted the new missionary orientation and the regional directors meeting for the Office of International Mission. The missionary orientation begins and ends each day with worship, and then is followed by a series of lectures on both theological and practical topics. Pastor David Preus, pictured above, said,”This week of missionary orientation is one of the most exciting events in my professional career.” Preus is working to complete his dissertation and will serve as a theological educator and congregational pastor in Latin America.
Dr. Bruce Kintz welcomed the new missionaries to CPH. He spoke how CPH desires to produce materials the missionaries can use to help spread and proclaim the Gospel around the world. Kintz mentioned CPH’s offering of multi-lingual products along with the invitation for missionaries to write and to translate works that can assist their mission work. He also mentioned how CPH tries to assist missionaries with the International Mission Gift Registry which seeks to get books and materials to missionaries in the field.
Dr. Detlev Schulz, former missionary to Botswana and Director of Missiology Department at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, introduced the missionaries to the field of missiology. He and his wife also described for the new missionaries what they could expect in the first year or two of life as a missionary in a foreign country in small group sessions. The missiological instruction provided by Dr. Schulz in the missionary orientation is just the beginning of study for the new missionaries, who will continue toward earning a Certificate in Missiology by taking online modules with Dr. Schulz for 48 weeks. In the near future, nearly all new LCMS missionaries should receive a certificate of missiology in the first year or two of service.
The Regional Directors of the five world regions (Asia, East Africa, West Africa, Eurasia, Latin America) meet with the new missionaries during the orientation and get to know them during both formal and informal sessions. The Regional Directors also met for ongoing work to the OIM strategic plan and for additional training. The missiology Module 3: Missionary Preparation and Service in Perspective for this regional directors meeting was designed by Dr. Schulz and presented by Dr. Collver. It focused on the care of missionaries and the causes of attrition. An important recognition was that attrition in and of itself is a normal process that happens because, 1. Unpreventable Reasons such as normal retirement, political crisis, death, or a change in job; 2. Marriage and family reasons; 3. Personal Reasons such as immaturity, health problems, inadequate commitment, personal concerns, inability to adapt to a new culture and immorality; 4. Organizational Reasons such as home support (real or perceived lack of support), disagreement with the organization, or theological reasons; 5. Team Reasons such as interpersonal conflicts or problems with partner church leadership. Some of these items are not preventable while others are preventable through better training and mentoring. The regional directors and International Center staff developed a plan to better address the causes for missionary attrition. Part of this plan includes the tracking of attrition. International business organizations who deploy people and missionary organizations routinely report a yearly attrition rate of 30%. The Office of International Mission is glad to report that the attrition rate for 2014-2015 has been around 5%, well below the average of many mission organizations. The Office of International Mission and the Regional Directors are committed to continuing to improve the care that missionaries receive in the field. As the number of missionaries increases by God’s grace, missionary care and retention will be a significant effort of the mission leadership staff. In the near future, we will present more on this topic.
With week one completed of new missionary orientation, we look forward to the second week.
— Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations
Rev. Mark Wood, Director of Witness & Outreach/Revitalization for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Office of National Mission, preached a striking homily on Thursday morning in the regular chapel service at the International Center. The text is Isaiah 52:1-7. A synopsis is included below, and if you click on the audio player below, you will be able to hear the message. May God bless your hearing of His Word! + Herbert Mueller
If the Lord were to ask you what part of your body you’d like for Him to make beautiful, you’d probably have a ready answer. Our world presses its own standards of beauty onto us and we are quick to embrace them. We want beautiful faces for all to see our beauty, beautiful hair to appear youthful, beautiful breasts to be alluring, and beautiful abs to convey our fitness and strength. But God chooses something better for us; He gives us beautiful feet.
Our feet are beautiful because Christ has fitted them with His Gospel of peace. But what makes having beautiful feet so important? In the first place He has given us beautiful feet to stand. As the people of God in the world, we must endure many difficulties, hardships, and even persecutions. The Lord gives us the feet to stand in the face of these things. But we are called to do more than stand; we are called to go. With our beautiful feet we carry the Gospel of Peace to our broken and dying world. As we go, our feet are reflections of the most beautiful of feet, the feet of Jesus.
The beautiful feet of Jesus are feet of flesh that brought God’s love into our world. They are dusty feet that walked the paths that we walk and experienced all of the hardships, troubles, and temptations that we experience. They are feet washed by the tears of one who had used her beautiful body in ugly ways welcoming those tears and washing them away. His beautiful feet are feet that served, even serving in the lowly way of washing others’ feet. Above all, His feet carried the Cross to Calvary and were pierced for our transgressions. The blood that flowed from the beautiful feet of Jesus has taken away the ugliness of all of your sins.
Your feet have been made beautiful to carry the Good News of Jesus to those who are perishing because they either do not know the Name of the Lord or they despise it. They may take you near or far. You may be shod with snow boots, flip-flops, or go barefoot in the places God has chosen for you. Wherever your beautiful feet go and whatever you may experience in those places, you can be certain that you will stand because your God reigns. Rejoice, be glad, be confident; God has given you beautiful feet.