Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I am the voting pastoral delegate from our Circuit at the 2019 Convention of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. It has been quite a while since I’ve served as a delegate, or even attended this convention. I’m tempted to say that I remember why that is so. It’s not exactly fun. I’m struggling with a cough. The days start early and go non-stop well into the night. The votes have not all gone my way. Thankfully, however, despite the fact that my seat mates may or may not vote the same way I do, we respect each other, and consider each other honorable fellow Christians.
The first Convention Essay was delivered by outgoing 1st Vice President Herb Miller. Herb has been battling brain cancer, and recently had surgery to remove a brain tumor. His presentation was powerful and very moving. He said, “Not one of you can wake up tomorrow and decide you’re not going to die.” Powerful. True. Sobering. Deeply felt. Furthermore, because of that, he said, “We don’t need a coach to figure out how to do life better. We need a Savior.” He spoke it as one who has faced death up close, but not as without hope.
Thanks be to God, we have a Savior. Our Lord Jesus has faced down death and conquered the devil and the grave. He brings us joy in all circumstances, confidence in prayer, and reason for giving thanks to God.
Additional evidence of our need for a Savior shows itself in the differences we experience on the convention floor and even during the worship services. Some of the worship forms are so foreign to my tastes that I can even be distracted and tempted to be judgmental toward those who express their faith differently. Some of the high church expressions are far beyond my personal appreciation.
I promised a fellow pastor to pray in response to some of these distracting behaviors. I promised to pray for him. He promised to pray for me. So whenever I am tempted to draw unkind conclusions, or project some impure motives toward those who express their faith in different ways, I will pray for him. He will do the same for me. We are, after all, brothers and sisters in Christ. And we have a Savior: all of us. For him I give thanks. In his name I pray. He is the source of true joy.