Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sasse - Office, Congregation... and now

In 1949 Herman Sasse wrote a letter to Lutheran Pastors about Church and Ministry. This can be found in the book "We Confess The Church" - and the following quote is found on pages 78 and 79.

"Of all the Lutheran churches there can hardly be another in which the office of the ministry is so highly honored as in the Missouri Synod, where the congregation is so much the center of churchly thinking and activity. Office and congregation are piped together. The life of the one is also the life of the other. If the office falters, so does the congregation. If the congregation falters, so does the office." (Italics mine)

So - what has changed?

In 1949 did we think that the work of the church was based or dependent upon the District or the Synod - or were our district presidents and heads of committees all living and breathing the life of a parish, not some corporate board room?

In 1949 did our congregations wait for a new program to accomplish a goal - or did they do so and simply share with others what they themselves had done?

In 1949 did our congregations assert their own independence in all things, or were fairly certain that TLH would be the order of the day wherever you showed your head?

Missouri has in her pride and arrogance turned away from her first love - that is simply being a collection of congregations and pastors, faithful to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, desiring to walk together in love and peace as each congregation and pastor worked the place that was given to them.

Let us make our pastors once again pastors in congregations, and not simply idea men or paper pushers in some cubicle where they think up abstract theologies for the "greater good." Let them be where true theology of the best sort happens - in the pulpit and sanctuary, in the classroom, at the hospital bed, at the shut-in's side, at the congregational pantry...

O foolish Missouri, how we were so bewitched by ideas of power and might? Whatever made us think that this pot of red lentil stew that we now have would be so tasty?

(Addendum - Sasse notes at the end of the article on page 82: "How unimportant then becomes all that has grown onto this office through the modern overorganization of the church; one has only to think of the church politics with which modern bishops kill their own time and that of others. Each sermon then becomes more important than all those sessions which spend their time discussing big church resolutions regard the Bonn constitution, the atom bomb, or Goethe's 200th Birthday." Is this any less true of the politics and wrangling of our day?)

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