Saturday, January 23, 2016

So, Pastor...

By Larry Beane

So, Pastor, you lack street cred. 

So, Pastor, you aren't an alcoholic, have never been in rehab, and you don't attend AA meetings. You can't cite a litany of drugs, legal and illegal, that you've used, abused, and been addicted to. You've never blacked out, been arrested for DUI, or hit "rock-bottom." You drink in moderation, but don't have a drinking problem. You have stress in your life, but have not been diagnosed with clinical depression or other mental health issues. 

So, Pastor, you've never been divorced, you aren't a sexual deviant, you're not confused, transitioning, or bi-curious. In fact, your marital life is pretty boring by today's standards. You've been married to the same woman for decades.

So, Pastor, your ethnic heritage is also very bland, being descended from doughty German Midwestern farmers without so much as a Norwegian in the family tree for diversity. You eat meat and potatoes and have never had a Starbucks latte. Your wife is the same race and ethnicity, and so are your children. You have no adopted children from a third world country. In fact, your family is not big enough for some, and too big for others. Your children are neither geniuses nor afflicted with mental health issues or otherwise handicapped. And if they are, you don't feel compelled to tell the world about it. 

So, Pastor, you don't have a popular blog, a powerful Facebook presence, or a happening Twitter feed. You don't speak at conferences.  You aren't an editor of Gottesdienst. You don't appear on Issues, Etc. You're not a regular at Higher Things. You don't have an S.T.M. You don't star in a podcast or run your own YouTube channel.

So, Pastor, you don't speak any foreign languages, have never been on a mission trip, have never lectured in Addis Ababa or Novosibirsk, and you don't have a degree in church planting. Maybe a drive to the closest Walmart is as much travel that you do in your life as a parish pastor where God has placed you. 

So, Pastor, you don't play a musical instrument, have never sung in a choir, and feel self-conscious even singing at the altar in church. You hum along with the radio in the car and sing "Happy Birthday" at family celebrations, but karaoke is out of the question. 

So, Pastor, you don't ride a motorcycle, drive a BMW, cruise the country in an RV, have a boat, or even own a car that is still under warranty. You're praying your auto insurance doesn't go up when the next bill comes. 

So, Pastor, you're not obese and don't post weekly Facebook updates about your latest sojourn to the bathroom scales or tweet every time you can accomplish another chin-up. Nor are you a Krav Maga instructor, paleo practitioner, or member of the trendiest crossfit club. You don't hold court about supplements and cleansing enemas and organic foods, nor do you brag about the astronomical calorie count of the extra-large chocolate fudge milkshake you just slopped down in defiance of the fitness craze. 

So, Pastor, you're not a vicarage supervisor, a circuit visitor, a district president, a seminary prof, or a six-figure bureaucrat. You're not a darling of the establishment that gets invited to speak at conventions. You don't smoke top-shelf cigars or drink expensive scotch. You're not an IPA or port or single-malt aficionado. You don't take selfies in exotic places. You aren't highlighted in the seminary magazines or the Lutheran Witness.  You are largely anonymous and invisible outside your congregation. 

So, Pastor, you don't wear a rose chasuble, or any chasuble for that matter. Your congregation doesn't use incense or do Gregorian chant. In fact, your parish doesn't even have every-Sunday communion, nor will it likely in your lifetime. You're fortunate that they still use the hymnal and have an organist. 

So, Pastor, you don't pack the house as the "lead pastor" every Sunday, wear skinny jeans and a little microphone, have a rockin' house band and a "worship leader" who makes faces of ecstasy when he prays with his hands in the air. You don't even sport a tattoo and no parts of your body are pierced. You don't even wear the latest style beard. Your church lacks a stage, has neither drum-kit nor mixing board, and is bereft of cup-holders. You don't baptize dozens of people at a time, block-party style, in a kiddie pool, boast a phenomenally explosive membership growth, all the while taking in thousands of mission dollars from the district coffers. You're actually happy to see a visitor or two every now and then. 

So, Pastor, you lack street cred. 

As a Christian, trust your baptism. As a pastor, trust your ordination. Christ gives you His cred.

That's all that matters. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sabre of Boldness goes to Wildner: full story and other nominees

Fort Wayne, Indiana, 21 January 2016.

The 2016 Sabre of Boldness went to Rev. Charles Wildner, now of Abingdon, Maryland, formerly of Baltimore. Rev. Wildner was faithful pastor at St. Thomas in Baltimore for three decades, serving in an inner city parish whose members often had drug addiction problems. He was a Christ figure in the inner city, welcoming the homeless and aimless into his home. When he got married, he developed “Concordia House,” a place for these people to go, to recover, and to receive the Gospel. Recently, while he was away on business, he was, accused of sexual misconduct by a drug addict who didn’t like him. This outrageous and utterly baseless charge has resulted in his suspension from office after a brief investigation interviewing only a few antagonists who had no evidence.  Pastor Wildner served faithfully and tirelessly for well over three decades in the inner city, a veritable picture of Christ among some of the most forgotten people in the land: drug addicts, homeless, destitute people. The baseless charge of impropriety has led suddenly to Pastor Wildner's shameless suspension from office. The editors gladly attest to this man's character and Christian humility, being saddened by the political forces that unjustly took advantage of the situation. We are honored to have the opportunity to burnish his reputation with our own. 

The nearby photo shows, from left to right: Rev. Dr. Burnell Eckardt, editor-in-chief of Gottesdienst; Rev. Charles McClean of Baltimore, who received the award on Rev. Wildner's behalf; Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer; Dr. Daniel Johansson from the Lutheran School of Theology in Gothenburg, Sweden; Dr. Chris Barnekov of Scandanavia House in Fort Wayne (both of these men representing the Scandanavian nominees), and Chaplain (Colonel) Jonathan Shaw, who is Gottesdienst's Sabre of Boldness editor.  There were seven other nominees, each of whom we also count worthy of honor for their dedication to duty and boldness in the face of evil. They were:

Rev. Michael Kearney, Pastor at St. Paul’s in Alden, Iowa. He has only served  for about a year and a half, but when he arrived, he immediately had to deal with some cohabitation problems in his parish. He dealt with them pastorally and clearly, stating that a cohabitating couple must not think they could simply rectify their impropriety by getting married, but by repenting of their sin. This led to some unsavory treatment of the young pastor, but, we have been advised, has also led to some God-pleasing repentance.

Rev. Annsi Simojoki of Finland. Rev. Dr. Anssi Simojoki, together with four other pastors, was defrocked by the Cathedral Chapter (the governing body) of the Archdiocese of Turku in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. His crime: participation in the life and work of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. They are not seen in a favorable light by the Cathedral Chapter in Finland because they do not support the ordination of women, and they uphold the vows of their own ordination into the Pastoral Office.

Rev. Rogner Block of Sweden. 
Similarly to Rev Simojoki, Rev. Block was defrocked in Sweden because of his participation in the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese, and also, similarly, because he could not support the ordination of women, a matter the State Churches could not tolerate. He and Rev. Simojoki have preached the Gospel, administered the Sacrament, heard confessions in congregations which had no pastors.
Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Dr. Scaer has worked tirelessly in support of the unborn, both within and outside the church, lobbying politically for the upholding of their right to life, and preaching within the church on the need to do so. His efforts have been ceaseless for several years now, and he is recognized as one of our clearest voices on behalf of the unborn who have no voice of their own.

Rev. Brian Hamer, formerly of Flushing, New York. UPDATE (our original information was not entirely accurate): Rev. Hamer, a faithful pastor for over a decade in New York, was recently removed from serving as chaplain to his own congregation's school without cause, by district officials working behind his back and in collusion with congregational antagonists, as part of an ongoing effort to run him out of town. He never wavered in his commitment to his call, but last year he finally  took a call from the LCMS Board for International Mission to full-time military chaplaincy in the Navy.
Rev. President Terry Forke, Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Harowtown, Montana, and President of the Montana District. President Forke was instrumental in finally bringing a resolution to the flagrant false teachings of Dr. Matthew Becker of Valparaiso. Dr. Becker, still unrepentant, has at last been removed from the LCMS.
Rev. Gottfried Martens of Berlin, Germany.  Rev. Martens has been pastor of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church in Berlin for many years, a church which has seen hundreds of refugees come in, Muslims seeking the truth and finding it under his preaching and catechesis, being baptized and brought into his congregation. His success among the immigrants has put his name in the German news, and so has put him personally at risk, due to the violence that so easily attaches itself to the Muslim extremists who do not take kindly to losing nearly a thousand converts to Christianity. Yet his efforts continue unabated. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sabre Goes to Rev. Charles Wildner

The 2016 Sabre of Boldness was awarded to Rev Charles Wildner, formerly Pastor of St Thomas Lutheran Church in Baltimore. Pastor Wildner served faithfully for some three decades in the inner city, a veritable picture of Christ among some of the most forgotten people in the land: drug addicts, homeless, destitute people. Last year a spurious and baseless charge of impropriety was brought against him by one addict, leading suddenly to Pastor Wildner 's shameless suspension from office. The editors gladly attest to this man's character and Christian humility, being saddened by the political forces that unjustly took advantage of the situation. We are honored to have the opportunity to burnish his reputation with our own. More info to follow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Final Call for Sabre of Boldness Nominees

The editors of Gottesdienst will be meeting on Wednesday evening, January 20th, to choose a recipient of the 2016 Sabre of Boldness. Anyone having a nominee may submit as late as Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. Submit complete information about qualifications, address of the nominee, email if possible, and your own name. Please submit by email.

The award ceremony will take place in the seminary commons after the banquet on Thursday night, approximately 8:30 (depending on when the banquet is over).

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Overture to the 2016 LCMS Convention to “Condemn the Conscription of Women"

In the closing remarks of his first letter to the church at Corinth, the church where men had abdicated their duties, and women had stepped into the void the men created, St. Paul wrote this: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor 16:13–14).

“Act like men.” “Be strong.” “Let all that you do be done in love.” We know what a man’s love for others looks like. It moves him to lay down his life. This is what acting like men, being strong, and loving is all about. It’s unseemly for a man to ask his mother, his wife, or his daughter(s) to lay down their lives for him. He is to love as Jesus has loved, by dying for them, not the other way round. This is standing firm in the faith, remaining steadfast to God’s Word.

With this in mind, a number of pastors have signed in support of the attached overture to the 2016 LCMS Convention. The rationale for this resolution is stated well in a blog post on The Brothers of John the Steadfast:

As you undoubtedly have heard in the news, the Department of Defense announced on Dec. 3rd that they will indeed be opening up all combat positions in our nation’s armed forces to women. 
As exclusion from combat was the legal rationale for also excluding women from the selective service system, the possibility of women being required to participate in the selective service system, and thus potential drafts, is now coming down the tracks at full speed. 
Pastors, please consider bringing this overture to the attention of your Board of Elders and to your Voter’s Assembly, so that they can send it on to the Synod to be included as a Resolution in the 2016 LCMS Convention. The deadline for submitting overtures is February 20.

The full text of the Overture, along with a PDF version and directions for submission to the Synod Convention, may be found at: