{The Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, preached the following sermon on the final day of the International Conference on Confessional Leadership, Peachtree City, Ga. The text was Acts 1:4-11.}

I entered the ministry serving two small rural congregations. The work of those congregations only took a few days a week. So I had time to get into other things and one thing was carpentry, working with wood. One day I went to the place we Americans call the lumberyard. I told Lester Going what size boards I needed. He took me into the back to the saw, and cut the wood to the size I needed. Then Lester asked me, “Do you want the Auffalls?” “What?” I said. “Do you want the Auffalls, the scraps, the little pieces cut off?” I said, “Yes.” Over the years, over the decades, that has become for me a picture of the ministry. I tell our seminarians that their main job as students is not to learn the techniques of ministry, as important as that is. Their main job is to seek to know God and to be known by God in Jesus Christ. The result of that quest, the Auffalls, will be blessed ministry. So also for you and me. Our main vocation is not … What are you calling it? Our main vocation is not “Confessional Leadership” but it is to know God personally and to be known by Him in Jesus Christ. The result of that Vocation, the Auffalls, will be God – blessed leadership. Our goal above all else, should be what St. Paul says, to “know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed unto His death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)


How is it for you? More and more, I find Jesus Christ to be a mysterious figured, larger that life. This larger than life Jesus mystified His disciples. You heard it. He told them something about waiting in Jerusalem, something about being baptized with the Holy Spirit. But the disciples only knew what they knew and asked Jess about the restoration of Israel. Jesus said, “that’s none of your business,” said something again about the Holy Spirit, and ascended. The Song of God is larger than life. But I’ll tell you, this larger than life Jesus made a lasting impression on those disciples. They obediently returned to Jerusalem, they waited, they received the Holy Spirit, and they became His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the ends of the earth. Larger than life, Jesus made a lasting impression on them and the result, the Auffalls, was witness.


This is our vocation. To gaze at Jesus with the eyes of faith, not of sight. To return home from this conference and to wait, to wait in silence (“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10, to wait in trust (“In repentance and rest is thy salvation; in quietness and confidence is they strength” Isaiah 30:15) and to wait in communion, in communion with the disciples around us and in communion with the holy things, creed, Gospel, sacraments. The goal of all this is not “Confessional Leadership.” You return home for communion with the Spirit of God because the goal is the salvation of your soul. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same as you saw Him go into heaven.”


Robert Cody, senior at Concordia University Nebraska; Caley Gerth, music director at Trinity Lutheran Church in Holly Hill, Fla.; and Paul Soulek, cantor at St. John Lutheran Church, Seward, Ne.; provided the music to accompany the rich liturgical life of the conference.

Dr. Alister McGrath quoted Wittgestein. “A picture held us captive and we couldn’t get outside it.” The picture that has captured us is Jesus. “the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ has show in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) That picture has made a lasting impression on us . “When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4) Everything else is Auffals. Amen.