What has remained the same since we arrived in St. Louis? In every respect time has flown because we have learned so much since August, 2005. Well, we are still sinners (Rom 3:23) and every day realize anew that we have nothing to bring to the table regarding the salvation that the Father has granted us through Christ’s work on the cross. But precisely because we are sinners, we rejoice (Rom 5:11) in being reconciled with our Lord and because of all He has done for us. Furthermore, we continue to have a passion for sharing the Gospel with those who don’t yet know the Lord. While this is true for our little ones as well, it is especially the case for Lula and me because we can both clearly recall the years not so long ago when we were still very distant from Him. What have we learned here at the Sem or, put another way, how are we different from fifteen months ago? As “good Lutherans”, we are continuing to realize that the more we learn, the more we have yet to learn.
One of the key concepts I have become acquainted with is that we sometimes need to “let God be God” and should not try to peer into His mysteries as we humans are prone to do. Whether it’s divine mysteries such as how the Trinity might “work” or more practical applications such as “Why did such and such happen in my life?”, there is a limit as to how far we can and should delve into His mysteries. After all, it’s no coincidence that, when asked by Moses to reveal His glory (Ex 33), the Lord replied that He would let His goodness pass before Moses—and then showed Moses His back. All we really need to know about God has already been revealed: in Christ’s suffering on the cross on our behalf. Another thing we have learned, which has come as a surprise to me—having grown up with everything from the Beatles to Van Halen—is our newly found appreciation and growing love for the richness of Lutheran liturgy and hymnody. If you think about what liturgy—or more precisely—worship is, namely receiving the gifts of God, which are His Word and Sacrament, then it comes as no surprise that, as we learn to understand Lutheranism better, we would also come to increasingly cherish the Divine Service—a most important component of our denomination.
Lastly, one other thing has certainly changed since we have come here. We have another mouth to feed—Lilly’s, although since she is still breast-fed, that task is at this time still more or less Lula’s. It is amazing how the six of us are quite comfortable in our snug 700 square foot apartment, one third the size of our house in Texas… Yet, while we had three acres to run around on back then, with no neighborhood kids, we now have the 72 acres of beautiful Concordia Seminary Campus—with some 200 playmates… The Lord truly provides!
What’s next? On November 30 we were exactly half way through our time in St. Louis. God willing, my studies here will be followed by one year of vicarage, which could be anywhere from Alaska to Florida. Ordination should be in the spring of ’09. If I am accepted into the church planting program for which I have applied, we would stay in the same region as our vicarage congregation, which would then be the “mother church” from which we would launch our church plant. We will see what the Lord continues to have in store for us. Regardless of whatever that may be, we are excited to be part of His program.