Receiving a Call

Saint Paul wrote to Timothy, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” [2 Timothy 4:2 ESV] Paul also reminded the elders in Ephesus, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28 ESV]

Pastors are called by God to a particular place to proclaim the Gospel and to administer the sacraments according to Christ’s institution. Their first priority is to remain faithful to the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Their next responsibility is to the family which God entrusted to them. Then they care for the Church, primarily the local congregation to which they are called, but also for the Church at large.

From time to time, as it pleases God, He calls a man from one congregation to another. When a pastor receives a call, he must determine if it is best to leave his current congregation, or to move to the new.

Eighteen months ago, within days of the fire which destroyed our home in Arvada, I received two calls. With the stress of the fire, and other considerations, I could not in good conscience accept either one. Although we do not believe that God speaks to us outside of the clear Word of God, He does make His will known. How that happens is a topic for a future article.

Now, however, as our circumstances have changed, and after prayerful consideration, I believe that I may best serve God and my family by accepting the call to serve the saints at Trinity Lutheran Church, Slayton, Minnesota. There are opportunities in Slayton similar to the ones in Leadville, with some additional opportunities which simply do not exist here, such as short devotions broadcast by the local radio station. In addition, there are some opportunities as a CAP Chaplain which cannot be fulfilled if I stay.

Most importantly, however, and the biggest consideration, is the health of the family with which God has entrusted me. I was a husband before I was a pastor.

The question was raised, “What will happen to the congregation once you leave?” God entrusts His flock to the proper under-shepherd of Christ. Though the laborers are few and the harvest is plentiful, we pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into His fields. The proper pastor will accept the call to Good Shepherd, even as, I believe, the proper pastor has accepted the call to Trinity.

No matter what happens, we will preach the Word, in season and out of season, as long as our loving heavenly Father allows us to serve Him. Be it in Leadville, or Arvada, or Slayton, the message is the same. We are saved by grace alone for the sake of Christ Jesus alone. The faith which holds to Jesus as our Savior was given to us through the working of the Holy Spirit and He used the Word and Sacraments to create and sustain that faith.

In time, probably a very short time, my name will not frequently be mentioned here in Leadville. My prayer, the message I was privileged to proclaim, that your sins are forgiven because Jesus Christ carried them on the cross, paying the price of our transgressions, will remain.

May God richly bless this congregation through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Confessing the Faith

Saint Paul wrote, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3b ESV) Meanwhile, Saint Peter wrote, “… always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15b ESV). And Jesus, Himself, said (as recorded both by Matthew and Luke), “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)

Our confession of faith begins with the simple statement, “Jesus is Lord.” In these three words we have the entire confession of Christianity. Indeed, every book, every pamphlet, every blog post which speaks the truth about Jesus simply is a restatement of this simple fact.

The problem, however, we need to define the three words. Who is Jesus? How do we understand the word “is,” a stumbling block for the unity of the Church as regards the Lord’s Supper. What does it mean to be “Lord,” both in the mixed case or all upper case as seen in the modern English translations of the Old Testament.

We spend a lifetime, and pass the questions on to future generations, developing the answer to the question, “Jesus is Lord: what does this mean?”

We believe, teach, and confess that Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who existed from before the beginning of the world. In Genesis 1:3, when God said, “Let there be light,” we confess that Christ Jesus, the Word Made Flesh (John 1:14), is the One speaking. So, you can see that the question “who is Jesus?” leads to a lot of doctrine very quickly.

As Lutherans, our confession of faith is consistent with the confessions of the Christian Church from antiquity. The first article of the Augsburg Confession (I will need to write a blog post about the Lutheran Confessions, won’t I?) says:

Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term “person” they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.

http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php#article1

Please note that the Augsburg Confession begins by saying we agree with the Council of Nicaea, which says our teachings are nothing more than what was taught by the Prophets and Apostles. The source of our teachings is the Bible alone (see the Formula of Concord, Rule and Norm), as opposed to other Christian church bodies who appeal to tradition, councils, and other sources.

We can get into the same type of discussion about “is” and “Lord” as we did with “Jesus,” but space is limited.

Every confession of faith comes from either a question or controversy. The Apostles’ Creed answers the question, “You are being baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. What do you believe this means?” The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, answers the question, “Is Jesus the Son of God or the first of all creation?” (God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made…)

The written confessions, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Book of Concord, are also a quick way to help us recognize false doctrine. If we read, “Jesus was not born of a virgin, Mary was raped by a Roman soldier,” we reject that teaching because it disagrees with the clear words of our confessions. The clear words of our confessions are drawn from the clear words of the Bible.

Thus, when we are confronted with the question, “What do you believe,” we are ready with an answer, a confession of our faith. We defend our answers based on the Word of God, and can use the written confessions as secondary sources to show what the Lutheran Church has taught from the beginning.

Our confession of faith is important. If we attend a church where the pastor preaches something in conflict with the written confessions, we have a cause for concern. If the church body believes changing the confession is necessary, we have a concern, for God does not change, nor does His revelation change. If our personal confession of faith does not agree with the ancient confessions of faith which have been proven to come directly from God’s Word, we also have some soul-searching to do.

Jesus is Lord. I invite you to help us delve deeper into this confession as you join us each Sunday for the Divine Service and Bible Class.

Reformation

This Luther quote is printed in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, page 867, published by Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis. It truly summarizes the grace of God found in Christ Jesus. I hope you enjoy it.

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May you ever cherish and treasure this thought. Christ is made a servant of sin, yea, a bearer of sin, and the lowliest and most despised person. He destroys all sin by Himself and says: “I came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). There is no greater bondage than that of sin; and there is no greater service than that displayed by the Son of God, who becomes servant of all, no matter how poor, wretched, or despised they may be, and bears their sins. It would be spectacular and amazing, prompting all the world to open ears and eyes, mouth and nose in uncomprehending wonderment, if some king’s son were to appear in a beggar’s home to nurse him in his illness, wash off his filth, and do everything else the beggar would have to do. Would this not be profound humility? Any spectator or any beneficiary of this honor would feel impelled to admit that he had seen or experienced something unusual and extraordinary, something magnificent. But what is a king or an emperor compared with the Son of God? Furthermore, what is a beggar’s filth or stench compared with the filth of sin which is ours by nature, stinking a hundred thousand times worse and looking infinitely more repulsive to God than any foul matter found in a hospital? And yet the love of the Son of God for us is of such magnitude that the greater the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us, the more He cleanses us, relieving us of all our misery and the burden of all our sins and placing them upon His own back. All the holiness of the monks stinks in comparison with this service of Christ, the fact that the beloved Lamb, the great Man, yes, the Son of the Exalted Majesty, descends from heaven to serve me.

Technology and the Church

Earlier today, October 25, 2019, a former colleague of mine sent a e-mail to a group of people who used to work at AT&T Bell Laboratories. He noted that the Unix operating system turned 50 years old this month. This operating system, more than any other advance in computer science since John Von Neumann invented the stored program computer in the 1940s, has defined modern computing.

This friend went on to describe, not the operating system, but the people with whom we worked, and supervisors who allowed us to push the limits of our job assignments. One of our division heads wrote a book, The Slingshot Syndrome ( https://www.amazon.com/Slingshot-Syndrome-Americas-Technology-Innovation/dp/0595208134), which discusses many of the advancements our division at Bell Labs invented. But he, too, discusses people rather than the technology.

Why is this 50 year milestone important? If it was not for the Unix operating system which inspired the Linux operating system, we wouldn’t have this church website. I could not afford the hardware or software to run the site. But because of the Unix operating system and its offspring, I can use Open Source tools to bring you sermons, news of the congregation, and even these simple musings. The computer on which this site is running cost under $45, and the software is free. That is quite a legacy.

That which we were doing in the 1980s at Bell Labs is now showing up in the marketplace. We pioneered e-commerce, we pioneered data communications, we pioneered networking. Where we didn’t invent a concept, we did improve upon it. Our ideas are now part of education, commerce, and communications.

The sermons that you read on this site were produced using Unix tools, word processing and document formatting programs which date from the early 1970s. Unlike the commercial word processing programs, which change or disappear leaving orphaned files which cannot be opened by existing programs, I can go back to papers and articles I wrote a quarter century ago to determine just how my sermon writing skills have changed.

Consider, in the past 27 years churches all over the world have been able to share the good news of salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ. (Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN laboratory in Europe invented the concept of the World Wide Web in 1992, the mechanism we use for most of our transactions on the Internet.) Technology is being used to bring sermons to shut-ins, to offer Bible study tools to everyone which were formerly available to very few, and to enable education or Bible studies across many miles.

We do thank God for giving us the intelligence to devise new technologies which help us to better communicate the Gospel. We pray that those who would pervert the inventions of mankind for evil be thwarted, and that good will prevail. More importantly, we thank Him for allowing us to proclaim what Christ has done, redeeming us by His precious blood, using every means of communication.

So, happy birthday, Unix operating system, whoever owns your copyright. May the fruits of the labors of many throughout the world continue to be a blessing to the church and to society.

Going Home

Saint Paul wrote: “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” [Philippians 1:22-23]

We are home from our 50th high school reunion. Having not been back where we grew up for over a decade, we were not really prepared for the massive changes. We drove past a house we had built in 1981 and saw that the trees we planted had grown to be massive. We looked for familiar restaurants, but they were long closed, the buildings no longer in existence. Yes, we were able to enjoy an old favorite, hamburgers with a side of fried zucchini, but the other places we wanted to stop were gone.

Our lives continue, changes happen. Paul was in prison for proclaiming the truth that Christ Jesus, who is true God and true man, died to redeem sinful mankind from the punishment of their sin. Paul was in prison for declaring that “by grace you have been saved through faith.” [Ephesians 2:8a] This word of hope has always been rejected by this world.

But we are in the world, if but for a short time. At the reunion, we were shocked to learn that almost one quarter of our classmates are no longer living. Age and accidents have taken their toll. Yet even for those who are still here, those with whom we chatted during the events of the reunion weekend, the home town is no longer home.

As Christians, we long for our true home, to be with Christ. Because of His death and resurrection, we are assured of the forgiveness of sins. Where there is forgiveness, there is life everlasting. We really are not part of this world, but long for the true home, that which has been prepared by Christ Jesus for those who are saved by grace alone.

While we were in the hometown, we really didn’t fit in. While we are in this world, we don’t fit in. Paul, proclaiming God’s rich love and mercy as found in Christ Jesus alone did not fit in. So we long to depart, to be with Christ.

Yet we are still in this world, still interacting with those who reject the message of salvation. We strive to serve God by serving our neighbors, reflecting His love for all people.

So, we are back in the more familiar places, that which we now call home, realizing that even here we really are temporary tenants. We look forward to our heavenly home even as we enjoy this home where God has placed us.

May you find comfort in knowing that heaven awaits, be it soon or be it in the far future. May God bless you with the assurance that your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ, and for His sake you have the promise of life everlasting.

The Church

Saint Peter, in Acts chapter 2, preached what might be considered the first Lutheran sermon. He properly distinguished law and Gospel, first showing the gathered crowd their sin, then proclaiming salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ.

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” [Acts 2:37-42 (ESV)]

So on Pentecost, Saint Peter and the Apostles defined the church. Our Lutheran Confessions, specifically the Augsburg Confession article VII, defines the church: “Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.”

In the second chapter of Acts we see this played out. 3,000 people were added to the roles of the church in Jerusalem through baptism. We believe, teach, and confess that baptism is a sacrament, one of the means by which the Holy Spirit creates faith which holds to the promises of God. Thus baptism is God’s work, done through the hands of the pastor (or layman, in the case of an emergency).

Peter, in his good Lutheran sermon, quoted the Old Testament — which is appropriate, for the New Testament hadn’t been written. Indeed, there is a lot in the New Testament which happened well after Pentecost. But the Old Testament is filled with Christ Jesus. The Old Testament is filled with God’s grace, love, and mercy. When we confess in the Nicene Creed, “and on the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures,” we are quoting Saint Paul who agrees with Jesus, Himself, that the resurrection was well and truly foretold in the Old Testament. Thus the Word, the Gospel of salvation because of God’s undeserved and boundless love, shown in the sacrificial death of His Son, is also the primary means by which the Holy Spirit creates and sustains faith.

So what is the result? 3,000 people learned from the Apostles who taught the Gospel. They took the Lord’s Supper, “the breaking of bread,” which is God’s gift to the church to strengthen faith and forgive sins. They worshiped and prayed with the Apostles, and each other, growing in faith and trust in the promise of the forgiveness of sins. They even were drawn back to their baptism as they were reminded that their sins were forgiven for Christ’s sake.

So the Church is the people of God called by Him through the proclaimed Gospel, and given the gifts promised in the Gospel through the properly administered sacraments. We consider there are either two or three sacraments, depending on your definition. The classic definition says “instituted by Jesus, and tied to a physical substance, giving the forgiveness of sins.” With this definition we have baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, we may define the sacraments as “instituted by Jesus for the forgiveness of sins,” which then includes absolution. Take your pick. Absolution may be the applied Gospel, or it may be a sacrament. Either way, your sins are declared forgiven (John 20:23).

So the church is not a building. Nor is the church a specific denomination. The Lutheran Church may go the way of the do-do bird, and the true Christian Church (God’s saints gathered around the Gospel and sacraments) still exists. That is comforting, for our hope of everlasting life is based on God’s promises, not our sinful, human institutions.

We trust that God will preserve the Gospel in its purity, and will raise up faithful men who will be His instruments to proclaim Christ as our Redeemer, while properly administering the sacraments.

Thus we pray for the church, knowing that at least a faithful remnant will remain until our Lord returns. We also pray that we may be faithful in preaching the Gospel and administering the means of grace (Word and sacrament) according to Christ’s institution. Finally, we pray that our faithful witness of the truth will be a light in this sin-darkened world, the light of Jesus Christ.

Questions

While driving to Idaho on CAP chaplain business, I was listening to a recording of a book by Saint Ambrose (340-397), once the bishop of Milan. Among the topics he discussed — the recording was almost 10 hours long — was telling the truth as a virtue. This also leads to transparency.

There are religions and groups which do not tell the public everything. You can’t join unless you take an oath not to reveal the secrets of the group, such as passwords, handshakes, and rituals. This, among other things, is one of the reasons we do not permit LCMS members to join the various lodges. More than the secrecy, they deny salvation through Christ alone, so holding memberships in the LCMS and the lodge is actually inconceivable, if you take either one seriously.

The Christian Church, especially the Lutheran Church, does not keep secrets from her members. As Ambrose wrote (paraphrased), “The bishop’s job is to teach.” Ambrose simply was agreeing with Saint Paul, 1 Timothy 3:2. Pretty much any Lutheran pastor would rather teach the Christian faith than anything else.

If we are so open and honest, why do visitors find us so mysterious? Why are they confused about the service, and misunderstand the words we use? When I was defending my dissertation, I made the comment that most (greater than 90 percent) of education is learning applied vocabulary. So many of our sciences, such as zoology, biology, meteorology, and the like may be translated “words about…” Our classrooms teach more words than actions, even in subjects which require physical training. As an example, much of learning to play the violin is learning the language of music and the parts of the instrument.

So our visitors come in and hear words like “justification” and “sanctification” and “grace” and “mercy.” They hear that they have sinned in thought, word, and deed, yet they have not really examined themselves using the mirror of God’s holy Law. No wonder they are confused. The working vocabulary of any profession, be it in a church or a factory or an airplane cockpit, sounds like the speaking in tongues of Acts chapter 2.

Unlike some organizations, some religions throughout the ages, we answer questions. We want to answer questions. We know that the only way to learn is to ask, to think about the answer, then to possibly ask again in a slightly different way. Matter of fact, in adult education some research suggests that you need to deal with a concept at least seven times before it makes sense and becomes a part of your knowledge base.

So the pastor’s library is open for one and all to do research. We begin our Bible class on Sunday morning with a session of “Stump the Chump” where we may discuss any aspect of theology.

Remember faith (that which holds to God’s promise) comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God. It consists of knowledge — often incomplete. Add to the knowledge trust that the knowledge is correct. Finally you trust that which you know.

Therefore, I welcome your questions, and look forward to learning as I research the ones that stump me. This way we are all increasing in knowledge of God’s rich love as seen in Christ Jesus.

And for the way home I am planning on listening to some G. K. Chesterton. Expect some interesting quotes in the forthcoming sermons.

Why Use the Liturgy?

A few years ago, while serving another congregation, a parishioner asked, “Why can’t we sing fun songs? Why can’t we change the liturgy to make it more interesting?” Shortly thereafter said parishioner transferred to another congregation which used contemporary worship and changed the liturgy each week. What would we lose if we were to give in and change the liturgy weekly?

Unlike the Old Testament, which gave a good indication of what went on in the Tabernacle or Temple, the New Testament only hints at the practices of the early church. We know that one of the first contemporary worship services, at the foot of Mount Sinai involving a golden calf, turned out poorly for the children of Israel. King Saul also learned the hard way that changing the form of worship was not God pleasing. But there are no such examples in the New Testament.

What we have in the New Testament are the members of the Christian Church adapting their Jewish traditions as they celebrated salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ. Peter and John are found going to the Temple in Acts 3, as an example. Later, in Acts 21, Paul is seen going to the Temple to complete a vow.

We can turn to early Christian writings, like the Didache (http://www.thedidache.com/) which give us examples of the early worship practices of the Church. Hippolytus of Rome, who lived in the late second and early third centuries, also wrote of the Apostolic traditions surrounding the practice of the Lord’s Supper. These sources look surprisingly like our practices today.

The liturgy as we know it was developed over the years. It was based on the practices which the Apostles knew from the Temple and synagogue, but amended with Christian references and sources. Yet, because of the source, we are connected with all the faithful, the “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) as we join with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven singing the thrice Holy as witnessed by Isaiah (chapter 6).

As you read the liturgy as found in the Lutheran Service Book, you will see the Biblical references for each phrase or canticle. The traditional liturgy is God’s Word applied to each of us each Sunday. The modern liturgies are paraphrases, trying to improve the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

By keeping the liturgy intact, we are helping both young and old. In our congregation there is a kindergarten student who has learned quite a bit of the liturgy, though he cannot yet read. On the other end of life, there are the aged who suffer from memory loss, but can still follow that which they learned as infants. The sick, the downtrodden, the stressed, can still recite portions of God’s Word which gives comfort and hope. The Word of God is ingrained, and arises like the lyrics of an old song, unbidden but bringing comfort.

As a pastor, my calling is to bring the Word of God in its truth and purity to those entrusted to my care. Though there are some interesting variations on the liturgy, nothing replaces rote learning for deep memory. Nothing replaces the framework of God’s Word, unchanging and yet seen in different contexts each week during the Church Year.

The parishioner in the former congregation got what she wanted, but certainly found it was not what she truly needed. She did not receive the unchanging and powerful Word of God, but a watered down version which appeals to our own sense of delight.

The Word of God brings us life everlasting. The words of men may be a quiet echo of that Word, but tainted with our own sin and our own base desires.

Which is best for you? As a pastor, I believe I may best serve you by bringing you the comfort of God’s Word, week in and week out. And those days where the sermon seems to miss its mark, though God’s Word will not return void, the liturgy helps reinforce that Christ Jesus died for you, that you are redeemed from everlasting death because of God’s love. That is why we retain and use the traditional liturgy in this congregation.

Why a Blog?

Why should we have a blog on a church website? What purpose does it serve? These are good questions, questions with a different answer for every webmaster or pastor.

Good Shepherd Leadville is unique in that it is the only liturgical Lutheran Church for a radius of at least 50 miles, if not more. It is the highest Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod congregation, and it is in a county where 83 percent of the population does not admit to participating in any organized religion. The only reason the church can keep its doors open, the pastor has some outside income to help defray the cost of living. Without a bi-vocational pastor, there is no way the church could financially survive.

But the small number of people (between 10 and 20 on any given Sunday) who attend each week need the assurance of God’s grace, love, and mercy. They need to hear of salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ. They need the objective proof of God’s undeserved love through the properly proclaimed Word, both Law and Gospel, and the properly administered sacraments. They need a pastor who will pray for and with them, visit them when they are ill or in the hospital, and bring the the assurance of life everlasting.

Sometimes the blog will discuss various aspects of being a pastor, such as the joy of service planning. Sometimes it will be an answer to a question, such as the upcoming “What did Luther have to say about the Ottoman Empire?” Sometimes it will be about externals, such as serving as a Civil Air Patrol chaplain.

This blog does not replace a Bible Study, though I certainly will answer questions you may pose. This blog does not replace attending the Divine Service each week, though you are welcome to download each sermon preached in or for this congregation. This blog is truly musings about being a pastor, being a rural congregation, and being in an area that simply has no desire to hear the truth of God’s love.

The people that I am honored to serve, having been called by God through the church to this place, deserve the best that I can offer. The best is the assurance of the forgiveness of sins for the sake of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The best is the hope of the resurrection, for where there is the complete forgiveness of sins, there is eternal life. (As for the resurrection, you might want to read 1 Corinthians 15 for a description of why temporal death is necessary on our way to eternal life.)

My plan is to post something each week, a bit eclectic but fun nonetheless. I will do this to make the church more accessible as you come to realize that the pastor really enjoys what he is doing. I will do this in hopes that you will come to know that our help is in the Name of the Lord, that in Him we are assured of heaven. That, and it is fun too.

Chaplaincy

Last week the was the Civil Air Patrol National Conference in Baltimore. The CAP is the auxiliary of the United States Air Force, founded just one week before Pearl Harbor in 1941. We are chartered by the United States Congress to perform emergency services missions (we are credited with saving 105 lives so far this year), the cadet program to build the next generation of leaders, and aerospace education.

There are about 400 chaplains serving the organization. To be appointed as a chaplain, the applicant must meet the same educational and endorsement requirements as active duty chaplains. By Federal law, CAP Chaplains may be asked to back fill for active duty, National Guard, or Reserve chaplains. Therefore, their training parallels that of the armed forces.

Chaplains are the only people in the organization whose primary responsibility is for the spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical care of the members. Yes, other jobs, such as logistics, ensure we have clothing and billeting, but their job is about things, not people. The same is true about safety, their job is about mishaps, not the care of others.

During my time last week in Baltimore for the conference, I saw first hand many chaplains living the core value “volunteer service.” They willingly put themselves under the needs of others, caring for those in distress. Time and again, chaplains stepped up to assist people with illness or injury, and listened to the hurting and distressed.

This reflects the love of God as shown in Christ Jesus. He was incarnate, not for His own glory, but to willingly take upon Himself the disease of our sin. He served us by dying and rising again. He continues to serve us through Word and Sacrament, as we are assured of the forgiveness of our sins and life everlasting.

It is an honor to serve as a pastor to this congregation, to be the one who gives hope in a sin-sickened world by pointing us to Christ Jesus. It is an honor to serve CAP as a chaplain, a reminder of God’s presence in a secular organization, caring for those who may not know Christ, and helping them see His love.

Thus we are able to serve others because Christ Jesus first served us.