“Walking Together” or Moving Apart?

walking together In our winkles as of late, we’ve been reading through a document entitled “Congregation-Synod-Church: A Study Document on Basic Theological Principles Underlying LCMS Structure and Governance”.  This document has 22 “Basic Theological Principles” regarding LCMS structure and governance.  When you read them, you might scratch your head.  The language in them, while not contradictory to our theology and practice, will cause the reader to ask themselves whether or not this is what we truly “believe, teach, and confess.” 

My biggest question in reading this document is this: Are we “walking together” or are we moving apart?  Granted, this document is intended to be read and studied, discussed, and the like.  However, it seems that there might be a push to move away from our polity which has worked for almost the last 162 years (04/26/1847).  Why fix something that isn’t broken?  Or, if it is broken, why has it taken 162 years to fix it?

Let us hope at our synod’s convention in 2010, we will truly be “walking together.”

Unity of the Spirit

In the May 2008 newsletter to pastors, President Kieschnick has some good words regarding the unity of the Spirit.

A word from St. Paul: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

The unity we have as Christians is a precious gift of God. If it then behooves us as Christians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” how much greater is our responsibility in this regard as ordained ministers of the Gospel?

While much could be written about these few verses in Ephesians, I find a comment in Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary worth sharing: “By striving after the virtues named by the apostle: love, peace, meekness, humility, long-suffering, patience, the Christians maintain the unity of the Spirit given to them in the Word. As soon as these virtues are disregarded, the result is dissension and disagreement, division and sectarianism.” It’s my prayer that all of us-and I begin with myself-will exhibit these virtues and maintain the gift of unity given us by God’s Spirit.

May this be our prayer!

Yet another sad day for The LCMS

Yes, it’s another sad day for The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Another mission has been closed, this time in Burkina Faso and Togo, West Africa. Rev. James May and family will be leaving their missions this summer. The reason why: money. Unfortunately, money takes precedence over the Gospel. This comes from his latest newsletter:

I regret to inform you that due to programmatic and business decisions, World Mission has decided to cease employing me as a missionary in West Africa. This decision came as a shock to me and my family as it may also be a surprise to you.

World Mission has been pressuring me to move on and inform you as soon as possible. One reason is that I would be without a paycheck and insurance soon after we have a baby due in July. We hope that by the grace of God we could have another call in place when my salary and benefits terminate at the end of August 2008.

The decision leaves three newly planted churches in Burkina Faso without a theologically trained leader and also the Lutheran Church of Togo without a missionary which they had been awaiting for six years. Please keep all these people involved in your prayers.

I didn’t know him and his family all that well. I think I met him and his wife at an LLL deal or something during summer Greek back in 2001. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family (with a baby on the way), the churches of Burkina Faso and Togo, and for the Church throughout the world so that the Gospel of Christ may continue to be preached, regardless of the cost.

What I’m hoping won’t happen will be the following announcement. Please note, this is purely satire and has not happened (and we pray that it won’t)!

ST. LOUIS – Churches close their doors across the country

Many churches across the country have closed their doors due to lack of funding. A decision by The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod’s Board for Poor Church Spending (BPCS) has closed the doors of some 6100 churches because money became a bigger issue than the spreading of the Gospel. No statement was available, as there was no one left to say anything about the issue.

UPDATE 5/8/08

It has been brought to my attention that money was not the issue behind Rev. May’s termination as a missionary in West Africa.  My apologies for any misconceptions.

Candidate Placements and the 33

On Tuesday, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis held its Vicarage Assignment and Candidate Placement services.  At those services, all vicar-elects were placed, while 20 pastor-elects were not placed.  Of those 20, 3 were special cases.  That left 17 men without calls to a congregation.  St. Louis also had 5 deaconess-elects without calls.

Chapel logoOn Tuesday evening, my alma mater, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, held its Vicarage Assignment service.  All vicar-elects were placed.  The following evening, the Candidate Placement service was held.  13 men were left without calls to a congregation.  8 men also chose to pursue graduate studies.  It’s possible that those men also were left without calls and chose to pursue further studies in hopes that calls would be forth-coming.  Dr. Fickenscher said that it was his hope that all men would be placed into the Office of Holy Ministry by the end of July.  We continue to pray for all of these men as they enter the role of shepherd and for those who continue to wait for calls.

“Response” for cancellation of “Issues, Etc.”

The following is the “response” email I received from an email I sent David Strand, the Executive Director for the Board for Communications Services. When I say “response,” understand that I use that term very loosely. This is the standard reply that everyone seems to be getting.

—– —– —–

Dear Pastor Tucher:

Thank you for your e-mail. We are sorry for your disappointment over the change in KFUO-AM programming. However, we hope you will enjoy our future programs.
Sincerely in Christ,

David L. Strand
Executive Director
Board for Communication Services
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

This electronic mail transmission, and any attachments thereto, may contain confidential information intended only for the named recipient(s). Any distribution or disclosure to another person is prohibited

A statement regarding “Issues, Etc.”

The following comes from the KFUO-AM website.

Issues, Etc.

For programmatic and business reasons, the decision was made this week to discontinue the “Issues, Etc.” program on KFUO-AM.  We look forward to bringing you new programming in this time slot in the near future. Also, we thank “Issues” host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz for their years of service on behalf of the station. Those interested may still download past “Issues, Etc.” programs from the “Issues” archive on this website. Thank you sincerely for your continued support of KFUO’s radio ministry.

Personally, that doesn’t say anything.  I want a real reason as to why “Issues, Etc.” was canceled.  Tell me that Rev. Todd Wilken said or did something to step over the line.  Tell me the Synod has gone bankrupt and is not able to produce the show anymore.  Tell me that Jesus has come back and there is no need to preach the Gospel any longer.  We as loyal listeners and supports of “Issues, Etc.” deserve a true, straightforward answer.  When will we get it?

Circuit visitation this weekend

This weekend, our circuit visitor, Rev. John Hill, is making his tri-annual visit.  Yesterday he met with myself and Gwen for lunch, then a one-on-one meeting with me.  Later in the afternoon, he met with the senior pastor and in the evening, he met with our Board of Elders.  This morning, he will be joining us for worship at both services, then will be staying for a potluck welcoming new members, as well as his visit.  This will give him an opportunity to meet and greet the congregation, talk to them as a whole briefly about the state of the Synod.  If people would like to talk to him individually, he has set time aside following the potluck to meet with those members.

I think that the Wyoming District is unusual in that our circuit visitors actually visit our congregations.  It’s good for the pastors so we can address some issues we have, seek advice and support.  It’s good for the congregation so that if they have issues which are afraid to bring up to the pastor (why, I don’t know.  It’s not like we’re scary or anything).  Maybe in this type of setting, they might be more open.  It’s also good for the District as a whole so as to make sure that all things are going well in the congregation.

Speaking of congregation, I guess I should head to church now.

Romans 12 and The Living Bible

This past Sunday, we had an installation of officers for our LWML.  I was given two “rites.”  The first was Installation Service.  The second was Installation and Rededication Service.  The first service was usable.  Actually, it was something which could have been included in the LSB Agenda.  The second service was longer and more responsive.  Below is a reading from “Scripture” from that service.  It comes from The Living Bible.  If you’re not familiar with The Living Bible, it is a paraphrased version of the Bible. 

Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body.  We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do.  So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.  God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.  So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, prophesy then whenever you can-as often as your faith is strong enough to receive a message from God.  If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.  If you are a preacher, see to it that your sermons are strong and helpful.  If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it.  If God has given you administrative ability and put you in charge of the work of others, take the responsibility seriously.  Those who offer comfort to the sorrowing should do so with Christian cheer.  Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Stand on the side of the good.  Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other.  Never be lazy in your work but serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Be glad for all God is planning for you.  Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.

So, you be the judge.  Does that sound like anything you’ve ever read before?

MINISTRY shapes faith more than WORSHIP

In the latest e-news letter put out by Rev. Terry Dittmer from the Youth Ministry Office of The LCMS Board for District and Congregational Services (what a mouthful), he has a blurb from the Associated Baptist Press under his “Teens and Trends” section. Here is what it says:

If you want to influence a teenager’s faith, have them serve meals to the homeless or do other hands-on service projects. “Involvement in community service is far more significant to the faith development of teens than involvement in worship,” says Michael Sherr, one of the Baylor University researchers who conducted the study (Associated Baptist Press, February 8, 2007).

So the question is: should I have my youth attend the Divine Service, where they hear the Word of God and receive Christ’s body and blood, OR should I send them to the local soup kitchen where they serve meals to the homeless? Better yet, why not just cancel church for all the members and send them to various places to do “hands-on service projects?” If it’s good for youth, then it has to be good for the entire congregation, right?

UPDATE: You can read the entire article for yourself here.