The Mission

Holy God,
what a relief it is that my
strength,
abilities,
knowledge,
credentials,
and the like
are not what you are looking for
to advance the kingdom of heaven.
As Luther said in his sacristy prayer,
“if it were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin”.
That is so true.
Rather,
you call the unqualified to proclaim Your Good News;
qualifying us through the Holy Spirit.
May we keep our eyes on You
and not turn inward; thinking either
“I am not qualified” and thus turn away from the mission,
or think,
“I am pretty good” and thus focus on our abilities; derailing the mission.
Holy God,
through Jesus Christ You redeemed us and empowered us.
May we not abandon the mission
but rather proclaim from the mountain top,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
All praise, honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Solomon’s Request

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
1 Kings 3:9 (ESV)

Solomon was wise in his request and thus God gave him a discerning mind (wisdom) to lead God’s people. And this request is also my request, not because I am wise in asking for this but rather I am realistic. I look at the congregation God has called me to lead and I am not so vain to think that God called me here because I am so wise. On the contrary, God called me here because God wants to use me to do something great for His church, and thus all glory goes to God. Yet, I am overwhelmed and scared silly at the task at hand. As I pray each week, Oh God, I am not a good speaker or preacher and thus if this task were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin, I also plead with God using Solomon’s request:

Oh God, give your servant an understanding mind to lead your church, that I may discern between good and evil, and what your will is; for who is able to lead your great church.

This is my prayer.
This is my request.

And may this be the prayer for all pastors and leaders in the church. May we never be so vain as to think that we are good enough or talented enough to lead in the church. The day that vain ambition takes over in a leader’s heart is the day the church heads down the road to destruction; following a leader that has lost their way. Learn and study Solomon’s request and make it your own.

Grant me a discerning mind, oh God, that I may lead your church rightly;
Grant me wisdom, oh God, that I may seek Your will;

Grant me understanding, oh God, that I may teach others rightly;
for this call is too great for me to do alone.
All glory be unto You, oh God, through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen

The Pastor -|—

 

Send Me

You have sent me out
to make disciples

of ALL nations.

You have sent me out
to lead people to You.

ALL people.

You have sent me out
to proclaim forgiveness

of ALL sins.

You have sent me out.

But I am judgmental
I am sinful
I am weak
I don’t know it all

Why, oh God, why,
have you sent me?
Certainly there are others more qualified.
Certainly there are others more faithful.
Certainly there are others who are smarter.
Certainly there has to be someone else.

But yet You have sent me.

Oh God,
lead me,
forgive me,
empower me,
gift me.

 For you sent me unqualified,
but,
only You can qualify me.
So in the name of Jesus
send me qualified in Your eyes,
so the eyes of others can see you.

Who shall You send?

Send me!

The Pastor -|—

We get to

I heard a statement yesterday that I hate to hear ~ but I also love it hear it:
“Eric has to preach tomorrow.”

“Has to”?  Really?

My response was immediate:
“I get to preach tomorrow.”

I hate to hear that phrase because it makes what I do sound laborious and tedious and that I really don’t enjoy it; that I would rather be doing something else.  But I love to hear that phrase because it gives me the opportunity to share my faith and the excitement I have in preaching and leading worship.

“Have to”?  Not even close.

Of course people smile and nudge me as soon as I correct them as if to say: “That is what I meant.” But part of me doesn’t believe them.  Even so…I had an opportunity yesterday and I am happy to say that I took it.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I am not trying to say that my job is any better than yours.  I am not trying to imply that my job is more honorable than yours.  I am certainly not saying that your job doesn’t matter as much as mine.  Sure…I get to stand in front of people and proclaim the Gospel in what I hope to be no uncertain terms.  But then again…so do you.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
[1 Peter 2:9-10]

We are ALL called to be ministers.
We are ALL called to proclaim Christ’s saving love.
We are ALL called to witness to the resurrection.

It’s just that my “job description” is a little different from yours.  We ALL have holy and important callings.  For God has placed each one of us in the vocation we are in for a particular purpose…so make the most of it.  Instead of saying (or thinking) “I have to go to work”, say instead “I get to go to work and share my faith with others.”  That is a holy and important work. Imagine the impact we could have on the world if we looked at our “jobs” as mission outposts for the sake of the Gospel.

God, please help me see myself as an instrument for your glory.  Help me to see my place in life as having a specific purpose.  May you be praise through my “work”. Amen.

edh -|—

Showing the love of Christ

On August 22, 2011 I wrote a post about a “mission activity” that the council of Salem Lutheran Church did on the first day of school last year.  The post is called Doughnut holes. Click on the link to read about what we did.

Anyway…

The Lutheran magazine did a little story about this mission activity in their “Two Month out” section in the June issue.  Very exciting.  When we planned this mission activity we never thought it would get so much attention.

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

All we wanted to do was welcome kids and parents back to school by showing the love of Christ in a very practical way.

We weren’t trying to recruit.
We weren’t standing on boxes preaching “Repent!”.
We were doing nothing but welcoming people with a smile while serving doughnut holes, juice and coffee (and tissues for parents).

The idea was simple and practical…and a lot of fun.  It was something anyone could do.  We saw many smiles that morning and made our day.  Will we do this again?  Absolutely!  Will we continue to show the love of Christ in a practical way?  I sincerely hope so.

How is God calling you to show His love in a practical way?

edh -|—

More processing…

O.K….I am back, writing about “the vote” at the ELCA CWA, but all I want to do here is share with you a couple snippets and let you process/respond to them.

FIRST — a woman came into my office last week to express her feelings about where the ELCA is going.  We had a very fruitful discussion, even though we have differing views.  She stopped in again today and handed me a piece of paper with 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1 written on it.  She said that this is where she is coming from.  She was on her way to another appointment so we couldn’t talk about it.  What do you think about this scripture in relation to the homosexuality discussion?

SECOND — I received this link on Facebook today.  It is a news release from the ELCA titled “The Church’s mission is bigger than one issue”.  I found this helpful.  What do you think?

Like most other people I am still processing.

Praise be to God!

-edh-