Next Saturday, October 6 (German-American Day), brings to mind arguably the most important lesson I learned during my vicarage year, learned from an elderly pastor in the circuit. It is a single German proverb: Mann musz nicht nach jeder Fliege schlagen. “One should not swat at every fly.”

Applied to everyday life in close proximity with other human beings, the proverb renders daily service. Many are those times when, irritated by something or someone or other, grabbing the swatter can be tempting.  But so often it is best to allow little things to buzz on by, Christian love and generosity covering the multitude of little details and faults that will always be part of life together this side of heaven.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are times, of course, that require setting the proverb aside, those times when a pesky “Fliege” hovers, as it were, over the proverbial German potato salad on our plates, and “musz nicht schlagen” is not an option. Not all faults can be overlooked. Action sometimes is required.

There other times when attention to pesky little details, however intrusive they may seem, is required. We are, in fact, finding our way through such a time as a Synod following the 2010 convention. Much attention to detail is underway here in St. Louis at our Synod’s International Center as the President’s staff and all of the employees work to move from the former to a new structure. This is an entirely different kind of “Fliege,” perhaps irritating at times, but warranting careful attention and offering a better way to function as a Synod.

And not all of this attention to detail is housed in the International Center. The 2010 convention adopted significant and detailed changes that involve the Synod as a whole, changes that beg widespread attention.

Attention Needed

There is no shooing away or ignoring the swarm of detailed changes that are before the members of our Synod, especially its congregations and pastors, at the present time. These changes include

  • new expectations of congregational membership and submission of parochial reports
  • the requirement for circuit forums prior to 2012 district conventions
  • a new process of selecting circuit counselors
  • a new opportunity for congregations to be involved in determining mission and ministry emphases
  • new attention given to visitation circuits
  • new widespread involvement by congregations and parishes in the election of the President
  • new attention to certification of district convention delegates
  • a new process for the election of First Vice-President
  • elections of other vice-presidents and some board members by geographical regions

To not give attention will be to miss out on some of the important privileges and responsibilities that come with membership in the Synod.

Attention Being Given

Every effort is being made through meetings with district presidents and circuit counselors, through a every-congregation postcard campaign, through email blasts of known pastors’ email addresses, and by postings on the Internet to get this important information out to the members of the Synod in a timely manner. Don’t ignore those postcards and emails. (Don’t swat at them either.)

Ray Hartwig
LCMS Secretary