A Very Special Tribute

Flower 1This edition of Perspectives concludes the fourth year of these weekly articles. Frankly, sometimes it’s a challenge to decide what topic to address and to do so with a reasonable degree of quality prior to the all too quickly arriving deadline of 5:00 a.m. each Thursday.

From time to time I think perhaps I should give this endeavor a temporary or permanent rest. Occasionally a few readers will complain and criticize. (By the way, if you don’t like what I write, feel free to delete or unsubscribe.) But then a bunch of readers will reply to an article they particularly appreciate and I get flooded with requests to keep on writing.

Since that’s happened often in recent weeks, I’ve decided to proceed with the fifth year of weekly articles. I have a fun one in mind for next week, so stay tuned. Invite your friends to subscribe or send them to jerrykieschnick.wordpress.com. Also feel free to suggest topics about which you’d like to hear my perspective. While I can’t promise to get to all of them, I’d appreciate your suggestions.

Much more significant than the end of Volume IV of these articles, today marks the 48th anniversary of the day I asked for Terry’s hand and heart in marriage. I remember that moment like it was yesterday, which is why it’s so hard to imagine it was almost a half century ago! When I tell people we’ve been married over 47 years, Terry quickly adds, “We married when I was just a child!” Actually, she is a few years younger than I, and always will be! Funny how that works!

It’s impossible to express how sincerely I thank God for Terry and how deeply indebted I am to this very special lady. She has been incredibly loving, forgiving, supportive and encouraging to me and the rest of our family. She has also tolerated, sometimes patiently and sometimes not, the interruptions, headaches and heartaches that have accompanied the variety of callings in which we have been involved together during the 43 years of our ministry in the LCMS.

There have been many such challenges, especially during our nine years in St. Louis. In lots of ways those were very meaningful and fulfilling years. In other ways they were quite difficult. I could say much more about the tough times, but I’ll save that for another time and place.

Even in times of trial and tribulation, Terry’s love for Christ, firmly established early in her life and lovingly nurtured during childhood, especially by her maternal grandmother, Blanche Gruesen, is as strong as it ever was. That love motivates her to encourage and pray regularly and fervently for family and friends. Her encouragement is frequently expressed in the form of hand written notes and cards, which she often writes early in the morning or late at night, endearing her to many.

So, my dear Terry, this is a very special tribute to you! You are loved and respected by many, especially all of us who are blessed to be part of your family! May our gracious Lord continue to hold you in the palm of his hand!

With all my love,
Jerry Kieschnick with Blog Background

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The LCMS in Convention

LCMS Convention

Credit: Christian Post

On June 7, 1970, I was ordained into the pastoral ministry. The next summer I attended my first national convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Milwaukee. The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS concludes today in St. Louis. It’s the thirteenth national convention I’ve attended, never as a voting delegate and never having missed one in 43 years of ministry.

In numerous ways, this one was not the same as those in the recent past. Having chaired four district conventions in Texas and three national conventions, I had become accustomed, with gavel either handy or actually in hand, to viewing from the podium a sea of delegate faces.

Things look quite different from the rear of the auditorium, looking at the back of many heads, faces of which are not visible. In addition, that perspective forces one to see more clearly the mass exodus of folks headed for biological breaks as soon as the convention essayist appears. No blame assigned in that regard. Nature does call.

It’s not my intent here to summarize the decisions made or elections completed at this convention. That information is available elsewhere. Nor is it my intent to criticize, in spite of the old Adam within me being at least mildly tempted to do so. Instead, I hope to offer a few observations about this convention’s demeanor and culture and a few related thoughts.

For the most part, at least during the time I was able to pay attention and was not responding to kind, cordial and even emotional greetings from many dear friends of Terry’s and mine from the past, delegates this year were seemingly less hostile or mean spirited than at some conventions I’ve attended and chaired. Could it be that the people at this convention were simply nicer or kinder or gentler than those present at other conventions? I think not.

My guess is that delegates at previous conventions were more emotionally charged upon their arrival than this year’s delegates. How so? Delegates in the past anticipated the election of a Synod president at the convention itself. This year, under the new rubric for doing so, the election of the president had already been completed and the results announced two weeks earlier.

In years past, pre-convention emotionality and anticipation were fueled by stacks of correspondence sent to delegates by interested parties, extolling the virtues of one candidate and exaggerating the vices of others. The absence of election anticipation in the context of such often vitriolic, voluminous, uninvited and un-welcomed material, contributed to a much calmer atmosphere this year than in previous conventions. Election fervor simply did not appear to be in the hearts and heads of this year’s delegates upon arrival.

In addition, based on my informal sense and unscientific analysis of voting results and other general observations, it might appear that the kind of delegates who in the past have been quite animated, vocal and even cantankerous didn’t show up. It’s more likely that such delegates were indeed present but chose not to find many things to fuss about, at least while I was paying attention as noted above. I could speak more specifically about the reasons for this observation, but my mother told me long ago that if I can’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all.

Obvious in the wording of numerous resolutions submitted by floor committees to the delegates was a concentrated effort to increase visitation, observation and supervision of congregations, institutions and pastors. Most of those resolutions were adopted handily, for what delegate is not in favor of ascertaining that the Holy Scriptures are cherished and taught in their truth and purity and the Lutheran Confessions honored and upheld among us as a correct interpretation thereof?

Not insignificantly, most of those resolutions concentrated significant authority in the hands of a few. That is something most of us either do or do not applaud or appreciate, depending largely upon the identity of the few and the level of trust placed in those so identified. Most in the LCMS hope and pray that such concentration of authority will be handled evangelically, faithfully and fraternally. Time will tell whether or not that is the case.

In the meantime, here are some realities as I see them:

  • The greatest blessing we have is the Gospel of Christ, our Lord and Savior!
  • The greatest challenge we have is acting as though we truly believe there is a hell and that the public proclamation and personal sharing of the Gospel for the sake of eternal salvation of the souls of people is the most important reason the church, including the LCMS, exists!
  • We must focus ever more seriously on our God given privilege and responsibility of accomplishing his mission of reaching the world with the unadulterated, uncompromised, unfettered news of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ!

Unless and until we do so in ways that are at the same time courageous, fearless and winsome:

  • Our witness to the world will be dulled and doubted.
  • Our acts of mercy will become difficult and disassociated from the love of Christ.
  • Our life together will continue to be characterized by distrust and division, whether or not such are detected at an LCMS convention.

Two reminders to myself and encouragement for each of you:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:1-6)
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. (1 Peter 2:9)

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!