Pres. Gaylin R. Schmeling
2021 Synod Convention Essay
This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary. The work of the seminary is aptly pictured in the Good Shepherd stained-glass window of our chapel. The window first of all shows that the heart of all Christian preaching is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for our salvation. Our Lord Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). All people by nature were wandering sheep. We had gone astray in the terrible corruption of sin. Satan, that old wolf, had attacked us, grabbed us by the neck, and was dragging us to eternal destruction. Yet the Good Shepherd came to our defense. He did battle with Satan throughout His life, culminating in the battle of the ages on the cross. There He crushed the old wolf under His feet, freeing us from his terrible grasp. He gave His life to destroy the power of sin, death, and the devil and opened for us the gates to paradise. Still the sheep were not left without a shepherd. On the third day, the Good Shepherd arose triumphant from the grave, our victorious Savior. It is this Good Shepherd that sends pastors to shepherd the flock, the church of God, with the means of grace.
The window then reminds us that in all this training, centered in the Divine Shepherd, the seminary desires to prepare men who will be shepherds or pastors under the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord. They will warn God’s people of false prophets who come to them in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), and they will feed the flock of God on the green pastures of the Word and the Sacraments (Psalm 23). In times of conflict and sorrow, they will point the flock to the gracious Savior who will hold them secure in His loving arms all the way to the heavenly homeland above. We thank our gracious Lord for all the blessings poured out on our seminary during the past seventy-five years; may He continue to bless our seminary so that many more under-shepherds of the Good Shepherd are sent forth to claim blood-bought souls for the heavenly kingdom.
The purpose of this essay is to consider the main aspects of the pastoral ministry and pastoral care in the Lutheran church today. What does your pastor do? What should he be doing? What do our congregations do? And what should they be doing?
The Shepherd Is an Example
A Lutheran pastor knows that he is not speaking by his own authority or power. He has received a divine call from God through the church (Romans 10:15).1 God calls public ministers through the church, Christ’s bride, to whom He has given the keys of the kingdom. Those in the public ministry use the keys in the name and stead of Christ and on behalf of the church. Whoever hears Christ’s servants therefore, hears Christ speaking to them (Luke 10:16; 2 Corinthians 4:5). The called servant is the voice of Christ Himself in the congregation, and at the same time, he functions on behalf of the church. Therefore as the pastor serves in his office, he has the comfort that the Lord has placed him in this parish and the congregants have the comfort and certainty that the pastor is serving in the place of Christ.
Every orthodox Lutheran pastor confesses that the Holy Scriptures are God’s errorless inspired Word, the only source of faith, doctrine, and life. He accepts all the Lutheran Confessions because they are a correct exposition of the Bible.
However, it is interesting that the Scriptures, when discussing the public ministry, stress the called servant’s life and example. The Scriptures state,
A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence … not a novice … holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convict those who contradict. 1 Timothy 3:2–4 and 6; Titus 1:9.2
St. Peter exhorts Christians to follow in Christ’s loving footsteps (1 Peter 2:21) and St. Paul speaks of believers as epistles of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:3). Christians are to live the Christ-like life out of thanks for salvation. If the Lord desires this of all believers, then how much more should not those in the public office, those who are functioning in the name of Christ and on behalf of His church, strive to image Christ for the church? They are to be examples for the flock of God (1 Peter 5:3). They picture the life of Christ so that those around them see the love of Christ in them. They are to let their light shine so that the true Light of the world shines through them. They are little Christs in their community, little shepherds under the Good Shepherd. Concerning this imaging Luther writes, “I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me; I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbor, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ.”3
The pastor preaches Bible doctrine, then he will live Bible doctrine. The pastor’s life shows the love of Christ to all around him. The pastor, his wife,4 and his whole family are the example of the Christian life for the flock. In a time when the family unit is breaking down, here is the example of the Christian family. The pastor is preaching God’s Word by his lifestyle.
The Shepherd Nourishes the Flock
President Orvick liked to compare church bodies to sailing boats with a flag flying high on their mast. Some church bodies fly the flag of the glory of God, apostolic succession, or the last times. What flag do our pastors fly? Our pastors have been able, in the midst of a variety of conflicts, to maintain the central article of the faith, justification by faith alone, as their major emphasis in preaching and teaching. This is the flag that the ELS has continued to fly. We are justified, or declared righteous, by nothing that we do or accomplish, but alone on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work.
In addition, our pastors have continued to teach the Lutheran doctrine of the means of grace. How do we receive the treasures of Christ’s cross? How do the benefits of Christ’s work come to us living 2000 years past the cross? We receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation through the means of grace, Word and Sacrament.5 Finally, the synod continues to have the Gospel predominate in all its teaching, publication, and work, so that the poor, lost sinner can find comfort in this life and hope for the life to come. This three-fold emphasis of the ELS that I learned to treasure in our seminary under the guidance of Dean Otto, I have tried to inculcate in all the students under my care.
The Pastor and the Sermon
One of the primary ways that the pastor nourishes his congregation is through preaching. Martin Luther said, “There is nothing that so attaches people to the church as good preaching.”6 Since preaching is such an important aspect of the pastoral ministry, the pastor will, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, devote much time to the careful preparation of his sermons.
The pastor begins his preaching preparation in prayer, asking the Lord for guidance in this important work. There will be a careful exegesis of the text in the original language so that he will not be dependent on someone else’s opinion about its meaning. At the same time, his conclusions are compared to those of the orthodox fathers. He understands that he is not the only one who has ever had great exegetical expertise and that he may be influenced by the worldview around him. His stand is made on the solid ground of the infallible Word. The sermon will proclaim Bible doctrine and only Bible doctrine. The sermon will proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
Finally, in order for a preacher to proclaim the whole counsel of God for the salvation of his hearers, it is also necessary for every single sermon he preaches to contain enough of the entire order of salvation that a person, even if he heard only this single sermon, could learn the way to salvation through it.7
As he prepares his outline and sermon, he remembers that the sermon will have both Law and Gospel,8 with Gospel predominating. The needs of his parish and individual members are always considered. The sermon will be both timely and textual. In his preaching the pastor brings his parishioners comfort, encouragement, and strengthening as they face the struggles of life.9
The sermon is the way through which the pastor reaches the largest number of people in his congregation with the Word each week. Therefore it is self-evident that the sermon will be a major part of his workload. His sermon will be well prepared and preached with free delivery so that he does not hinder the work of the Holy Spirit.
Only the Holy Ghost can by means of the Gospel convert sinners and edify Christians; the preacher cannot do it. But the preacher can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit. This the preacher does when he fails to prepare his subject-matter well. God has not given us His Word in a jumbled mass of illogical thought, but in a well-arranged form and in a language which can easily be understood.10
Besides the Sunday morning and midweek sermons, the most common sermons that the pastor prepares are wedding and funeral sermons. The wedding sermon expresses the joy of the occasion. It points out the couple’s need for the Savior and their need for the Savior in their home through family devotions and Bible study. The funeral sermon confesses the hope of the resurrection and provides comfort for those who remain in this life.11
The divine service will be conducted with proper dignity and respect. This is our encounter with the divine. Here the bride of Christ meets the Bridegroom and is fed by Him in Word and Sacrament. The divine liturgy is an eschatological event, the already and not yet; a foretaste of heaven.
The Pastor and Baptism
Baptism is a glorious saving act of the Triune God in which water is applied in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Through Baptism sinners are born again (John 3:5; Titus 3:5) as the children of God the Father through faith in Christ Jesus the Savior. As the apostle Paul states, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26–27). Through Baptism we become members of Christ’s body, the church, “for we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Also through Baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, including all the blessings of salvation. As the apostle Peter proclaimed on Pentecost: “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” (Acts 2:38).
What a priceless treasure the Lord has given us in the baptismal waters: new birth, the forgiveness of sins, liberation from the devil and the powers of evil, new spiritual life, and eternal salvation beyond the grave.12 Because of this the pastor encourages parents to bring their children to the baptismal font. How can parents withhold these waters from their children who have been born dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and need to be reborn as all people through faith in the Savior in Baptism? Parents will be encouraged to remind their children of their Baptism and strengthen that baptismal faith through the Word as they grow.
The congregation needs to comprehend that Baptism is not only for children or a one-time occurrence in the past without any meaning for the here and now. The pastor points out, as St. Paul does in Romans 6, that it has value for each and every day of our life. Each day we need to die and rise again in Baptism. Through Christ’s resurrection, Baptism is the power source of our new life, our resurrection life right now, so that we can daily crucify the flesh and arise to new life, that is, we can daily put off the old man and put on the new man. Each day in true repentance we will throw our sins of pride, gluttony, drunkenness, lust, and greed back into the baptismal font and drown them. Then through the word of absolution given us in Baptism, our new resurrection life will come forth strengthened to live a more God-pleasing life. This is the daily use of Baptism to which Luther refers in his Small Catechism under the “Meaning of Baptism.”
The Pastor and the Lord’s Supper
The pastor not only feeds his flock with the life-giving Word, but also he nourishes them with the holy Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. This is the case because of the great blessings there offered. Luther aptly summarized the blessings of the Supper in the Small Catechism: “The benefit which we receive from such eating and drinking is shown us by these words: Given and shed for you for the remission of sins, namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”13 The Holy Supper offers the complete forgiveness of sins, strengthening for our faith life, nourishment in the struggles of our present pilgrimage, and the assurance of eternal life.
In order to obtain the benefits of the Holy Supper the Christian must be well prepared to receive it worthily, as St. Paul encourages (1 Corinthians 11:28). Therefore the pastor wants to be sure that his members are properly prepared to receive the Sacrament. He is concerned that his people will not receive the Sacrament to their harm. This, however, is not a worthiness brought about by the Law, but by the Gospel, and it does not consist in a perfect life and entire purity of the soul. Rather, to be worthy and well prepared means that we have a sincere sorrow over our sins. We will confess them, striving to do better, and earnestly long for the forgiveness of sins. At the same time this worthiness includes a confident faith in Jesus the Savior. He paid for the sins of the whole world on the cross with His body and blood, and He gives us that very body and blood in the Supper for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.14
According to St. Paul the Sacrament draws us into one body, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:17). Because the Lord’s Supper draws us into one body, we will receive the Sacrament only with those who are one with us in Christ, those that teach His Word in its truth and purity (John 8:31). The Supper is a confession of agreement in doctrine. Therefore closed or close communion is practiced in orthodox Lutheran congregations.
The Pastor and Education
Education and servant leadership are a vital part of the pastor’s calling. He educates and leads through the sermon, but he does this also in many other ways. The training of young people through confirmation class is normally done by pastors in our synod. The students are taught the basic truths of Christian doctrine through the catechism and explanation so that they may partake of the Lord’s Supper.
The first objective of the instructions will be that the children may grow in faith and Christian maturity through the Word of God so that they can confess their faith with understanding and be received at the Lord’s table. Thus a clear understanding of the way of salvation (sin and grace) and of the sacraments is most important. To this minimum requirement for confirmation a broader objective will include memorization of the Enchiridion, of Bible references, and a good understanding of the whole counsel of God. This will serve as a basis on which to build throughout the Christian’s life so that he may become ever more mature and complete in Christ.15
In preparation for catechism class, the pastor takes care to see that his congregational Sunday school is in order. Here, in addition to Bible history, the children will memorize Luther’s Small Catechism and the main Bible passages the students will need to know for confirmation class. If the Sunday school is not functioning in this way, the pastor as leader will assist in the organization of his Sunday school.
Even before Sunday school and together with Sunday school, the pastor reiterates to his members the responsibility of parents to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The Christian family is to have regular family devotions so that the children grow in the knowledge of salvation. In a time when there is a growing ignorance of Bible knowledge in society, parents will especially want to inculcate the truths of Scripture in the home. When there is a Lutheran elementary school available, parents will desire their children to have a Christian environment where all classes are taught in the light of God’s Word. This need for a Christian learning environment can also be fulfilled through homeschooling. In addition, there are Lutheran high schools in various areas and Christian colleges, like Bethany Lutheran College. When a pastor is in a congregation that has its own Lutheran school, he will make sure that its religious training coincides with his confirmation class.
The idea that confirmation is graduation from Christian education must continually be refuted by the pastor. To accomplish this, he encourages the congregational Bible class for all its members. Bible class is not only for the pious or the old but for everyone. Here the whole realm of Bible topics and doctrine can be discussed, nourishing the congregation. The pastor uses the various organizations of the congregation (youth group, women’s organization, men’s club, and senior organization) as an opportunity for devotions and Bible presentations. When he is not able to be available for these agencies of the congregation, he will provide orthodox Lutheran material for their use.
In the organizations and agencies of the congregation, the pastor practices servant leadership by word and example. He will not drive the flock with an iron rod, but he will shepherd and lead in the love and compassion of the Savior. He will not lead as superior being but will follow the Savior’s example of humility, as St. Peter writes, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:2). Those who have attended my pastoral theology class know that I emphasize diplomacy and common sense. Many of the troubles in congregations have nothing to do with doctrine; they arise because the pastor or member, or both, are not using diplomacy and gentle love. The pastor will lead in humility and the love of the Savior. Certainly the pastor need basic people skills and common sense. “Three things are necessary to the ministry: grace, learning, and common sense. If you have not grace, God can give it to you; if you have not learning, man can give it to you; but if you have not common sense, neither God nor man can give it to you, and you will be fools forever.”16
The Shepherd Tends (Cares for or Visits) the Flock
One of the favorite sayings of the former seminary president, Wilhelm Petersen, was, “A home-going pastor makes a church-going people.” Through home visits the pastor will come to know the needs of his people and they will come to know his caring pastoral heart. When the members of the congregation know the shepherd, they will more readily come to him with their burdens.
In times of sickness, burden, and approaching death, there is a temptation to doubt God’s love, to murmur, and to despair. At such times, the Christian especially needs Gospel comfort from his pastor. Therefore the pastor will want to visit his people as they face various ailments to strengthen them with the Gospel of forgiveness and the Sacrament.17 This care for the sick and infirm is an integral part of the preaching office, as is seen in James 5:14. The pastor will visit his members even when the situation is not that pleasant. Walther notes, “There is no doubt that visiting the sick and those confined to bed to comfort them in their homes is a most necessary work and should not be neglected even on account of difficulty or the risk of infection.”18
In his visits and meetings with members of the congregation, he will have many opportunities to counsel his members. Pastoral counseling is that pastoral care (Seelsorge) of individuals as they face their problems, troubles, grief, burdens, fears, and illnesses, which involves not simply giving advice, but assisting them to find help and healing from the Word of God. For this work, he has a unique objective, which is to bring about change, and he has unique tools, the means of grace.
Confession and absolution is an essential part of counseling. In confession and absolution the putting off and putting on of Ephesians 4:22–24 occurs. In confession the old man and his sin are nailed to the cross and buried with Christ. In absolution the forgiveness of Christ causes the new man to again come forth and arise by the power of Christ’s resurrection, which is the daily return to Baptism according to Romans 6. The basic paradigm for counseling is the return to Baptism by putting off sinful habits and by putting on a new spiritual life as St. Paul points out in Ephesians 4:22–25: “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.”
The pastor gives advice and direction to individuals in many difficulties and troubles. At the same time, there are counseling situations and mental health problems that need assistance in addition to that of the spiritual counseling of the pastor. In these cases, our pastors have the benefit of the services like Christian Family Solutions.
The Shepherd Searches for the Lost
The pastor and his congregation will not only look inward, but they will also seek the lost. The pastor is continually looking for opportunities to share the Gospel of salvation with those who do not know the Savior. He wants his entire congregation to be equipped to present the way of salvation in their vocation. If a Christian in his vocation or leisure can discuss world events, the political situation, and his family problems, then he should also be able to discuss the most important thing: Jesus and His cross for our salvation.19
I doubt that any Christian would walk or drive past an individual injured or dying without doing anything to help. Like the good Samaritan, he would do what he could to help the individual physically. Then, how much more will not the Christian want to save those dead and injured in sin, which condemns both body and soul to hell? Today virtually every area of this country is a mission field. The idea that small town America is totally churched or Christian is passé. The pastor will seek the lost and will prepare his congregation to reach out to all around them.20
The Responsibility of the Flock to the Shepherd
As a seminary student I heard Professor Reichwald say a number of times, “Some congregations are a one-horse affair because one horse is pulling the whole load.” He meant everything that was done in the congregation was done by the pastor, from evangelism to snow shoveling. The pastor will shepherd and lead the congregation, but he needs the help and assistance of the entire congregation. Each member has gifts and abilities that the Lord desire to be used in the work of the kingdom.
The first responsibility of a congregation is to judge if the preaching and teaching that they hear is from God. St. John says, “Beloved believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). Each Christian must make certain that he and his family are receiving the water of life from the pulpit and not spiritual poison. How then can a congregation try the spirits or judge Christian preaching? This judgment is not based on what it wants to hear or on what it thinks it should be taught in this postmodern world, but alone on the Holy Scripture. In order to make the judgment, of course, the members of the congregation must each daily study the Word so that they know what is from God (Acts 17:11). If the pastor is teaching the Word in its truth and purity then it is not man’s words but God Himself is speaking and it should be accepted as such. That pastor is the very representative of Christ in the congregation through whom God speaks to His own, as St. Paul declares, “We also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the words of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Each member of the congregation will receive his called servants with all the love and compassion of the Savior. They are the workers that God has given through divine call to fulfill the needs of the congregation at this time in its history. As the pastor comes urging the members to help in the work of the kingdom with their time, money, and talents, as he admonishes sin in their midst, and as he feeds them with the Word, the members should not think, “What right has he to say that to me,” but rather they will receive him in love as the called servant of Christ. In times of sorrow and hardship, they will turn to him for the counsel and comfort of the Lord. The congregation will receive him as Christ’s representative who is bringing balm and healing for their burdens and needs. He is the one sent by Christ to seek the lost and gather the flock.
The members of the congregation will participate in the work of the church according to their ability. There are many opportunities for members to serve in leadership, education, evangelism, stewardship, and general maintenance. Many of the tasks that the pastor is asked to do in the congregation have little to do with the Gospel ministry. The members will want to keep their church from becoming “a one-horse show.”
Finally the congregation is responsible for the support of the ministry in its midst. The Bible says the laborer is worthy of his hire and they that preach the Gospel should live from the Gospel (1 Timothy 5:17–18; 1 Corinthians 9:14; Galatians 6:6–7). Through the congregation God provides all that the pastor and his family need to support this body and life. The congregation will provide for the faithful pastor in its midst, as the members would provide for their own. The church shames itself before God and the world when it does not provide for its own. Rather they will give as the Lord gives to them.
Both the pastor and congregation have to admit that they have failed many times in their responsibilities to each other and to the Lord. Neither pastor nor congregation can fully emulate the love of Christ. Yet thanks be to God, that our gracious Savior is always present in need. He gives full forgiveness and strengthens both the pastor and congregation to better carry out the work of the kingdom so that more and more know the joy of salvation.
The seminary faculty would like to encourage the young people of our synod to consider entering the public ministry of the Word because our world is in desperate need of the Gospel of salvation. All around us there are people lost and dying in sin. The only hope for our lost and fallen race is found in the Gospel of Christ which the public ministry proclaims. Jesus came into this world to save all people from their sinful, lost condition. The Psalmist says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). The Father lifted our sins from us, took the whole filthy load and laid it upon His own Son. At the cross Jesus removed them from us as far as the east is from the west, blotting them out with His own blood, drowning them in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). That wonderful treasure is brought to us personally through the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, and is received through faith in the Savior.
The means of grace are the greatest treasure there is because here Christ is present for us with all His blessings. Without Jesus, life has no meaning or purpose and our end is destruction. Without Him there will always be something missing in our life. There will be a craving within that will not be satisfied with wealth, power, and prestige. Only Jesus can the heartfelt longing still. With Him as our Savior we have peace and purpose in this life and the blessed hope of the life to come.
This is the priceless treasure that those in the public ministry dispense. There is no greater work than this. The most important earthly occupation will benefit only for this life. A physician can care only for the body; He can make only the body well. But the called servant of Christ distributes the medicine for immortality, the antidote for eternal death, that we may live forever in glory.
Is there a need? Is there really a need for our young people in the Lord’s service? Yes, there is a need for pastors, teachers, and missionaries in our synod right now. A sizeable number of our pastors are reaching retirement age. Our mission board wants to begin new missions, and our congregations desire to begin new schools or enlarge their present staff, calling more Lutheran elementary school teachers. All around us the souls of men are dying. They are going headlong to destruction. We have the Gospel which alone can give them life, and the Master calls for us to help.
The faculty would ask each member of our synod to encourage the young men in his family and congregation to consider the pastoral ministry. Here they will feed the flock of Christ on the green pastures of Word and Sacrament. They will use the strong medicine of the Law, for they must point out sin and error. Yet their main purpose will be to dispense the sweet balm of the Gospel, to bind up the wounded, those broken in sin and enduring all the problems and troubles of life. They search for the lost and gather the flock. They shepherd the sheep until the Lord calls them home, and then they comfort those who remain.
We would urge each member of our synod to encourage the young men and the young women in his family and congregation to consider the teaching ministry. Here they are fulfilling Christ’s directive to His public servants, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15). They will nourish and strengthen the little lambs in our schools with the precious milk of the Word.
The gracious Savior who laid down His life for our salvation is calling for pastors and teachers to feed and nourish the sheep and lambs purchased with His own blood. We would like to encourage every young person in our synod—and not merely the young people—to consider this vital task which the Savior has placed before us. There is no greater work!
Let none hear you idly saying,
“There is nothing I can do,”
While the multitudes are dying,
And the Master calls for you.
Take the task He gives you gladly;
Let His work your pleasure be.
Answer quickly when He calleth,
“Here am I, send me, send me!”
1 AC XIV (BC 46–47). Unless otherwise indicated, references to the Lutheran Confessions will be based on The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ed. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, trans. Charles Arand, Eric Gritsch, Robert Kolb, William Russell, James Schaaf, Jane Strohl, and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000). References will be made by confession, be abbreviated according to the standards found on pages xi–xii of this edition, and will include BC pagination.
2 An Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (Mankato: Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 2001), 27.
3 Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Helmut Lehmann, and Christopher Brown (St. Louis and Philadelphia: Concordia Publishing House and Fortress Publishing House, 1955–), 31:367.
4 A faithful preacher’s wife is one of the greatest assets of a pastor, as I know from experience. The opposite is also definitely true. The pastoral office is an entire lifestyle and affects the pastor’s wife and his whole family. The pastor’s wife and family need to be aware and prepared for this. The position of pastor’s wife requires certain skillsets, but most important, a pastor’s wife is to be a Lutheran Christian and a dedicated wife. She will assist the pastor in the parish, depending upon her particular talents and in accord with her vocation. She will be the confidant and counselor to her husband to the extent that it does not violate the pastoral office. The pastor’s wife and her family will be an example to the congregation.
5 LW 40:213–214.
6 Ap, XXIV, 51 (BSELK 638). Die Bekenntnisschriften der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche, ed. Irene Dingel, Bastian Basse, Marion Bechtold-Mayer, Klaus Breuer, Johannes Hund, Robert Kolb, Rafael Kuhnert, Volker Leppin, Christian Peters, Adolf Martin Ritter, and Hans-Otto Schneider, 1st ed. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014).
7 Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther, American–Lutheran Pastoral Theology, ed. David W. Loy, trans. Christian C. Tiews (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2017), 113.
8 Concerning the Law–Gospel division, St. Paul writes, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Concerning this Luther writes, “Therefore, whoever knows this skill well [distinguishing between Law and Gospel], set him on high and call him a doctor of Holy Scripture, since without the Holy Spirit distinction cannot be understood” (“Darumb, welcher die Kunst wol kan, den setze oben an und heisse in einen Doctor der heiligen Schrifft, denn on den heiligen Geist ists unmüglich, diese unterscheid zu verstehen” WA 36:29 [LW 57:67]).
9 An example of ELS preaching is found in the book, In Jesus’ Name. The sermons were submitted by many pastors in the synod in the early 2000s. The book is organized as a postil with a sermon for every Sunday of the church year. It is a festschrift written in honor of Wilhelm Petersen, the former president of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary. (Alexander Ring, ed., In Jesus’ Name: A Festschrift of Sermons in Honor of Dr. Wilhelm Petersen [Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2006]) Another example of ELS preaching is Morning Bells at Our Saviour’s (Norman A. Madson, Morning Bells at Our Saviour’s: Sermons for every Sunday of the church year, based on Gospel texts for the day, and several sermons for special occasions, ed. Norman A. Madson, Jr. [Mankato: Lutheran Synod Book Company, 2008]).
10 John H. C. Fritz, Pastoral Theology: A Handbook of Scriptural Principles (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1932), 97–98.
11 Every funeral sermon should have these main points: 1. All sorrow and tribulation is over for the deceased and he is in glory with Jesus. 2. Even his body will rise again. 3. There will be a blessed reunion in heaven for those who remain. 4. Jesus is with the mourners all the way in this life, strengthening them through the means of grace.
12 Luther writes in the Large Catechism: “Suppose there were a physician who had so much skill that people would not die, or even though they died would afterward live eternally. Just think how the world would snow and rain money upon such a person! Because of the throng of rich people crowding around, no one else would be able to get near. Now, here in baptism there is brought, free of charge, to every person’s door just such a treasure and medicine that swallows up death and keeps all people alive.” (LC IV, 43 [BC 461–462]).
13 Explanation, 24.
14 As a Christian prepares to receive the Blessed Sacrament, he will use questions such as these to examine himself.
1. Am I truly sorry for all my sins in thought, word, and deed?
2. Do I believe that Jesus my Savior paid for all these sins on the cross?
3. Do I believe that Jesus gives me in the Supper His body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins, life, and salvation?
4. Do I sincerely desire with the aid of the Holy Spirit henceforth to amend my sinful life?
15 Armin W. Schuetze and Irwin J. Habeck, The Shepherd Under Christ: A Textbook for Pastoral Theology (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1989), 124–125.
16 G. H. Gerberding, The Lutheran Pastor (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1915), 51.
17 The pastor reminds the burdened person that Christ gave His life for him on the cross. If He already did this most important thing and chose him as His own in Baptism, then He will also be with him in all the other problems and troubles of life, working all for his good (Romans 8:28, 32).
18 Walther, 327.
19 A famous preacher once said that the most beautiful painting he had ever seen was that of the Rock of Ages which portrayed a shipwrecked woman clinging with both hands to the Rock of the Cross. Later he changed his mind and regarded as the most beautiful painting one which was similar but which showed the same woman clinging to the Rock of the Cross with one hand and rescuing a victim with the other hand.
20 Concerning missions, President Orvick said:
This is also the kind of pastor we want. Yes, you need your Greek and Hebrew, your dogmatics and homiletics, otherwise you wouldn’t know how to win the lost. But don’t ever place your supposed intellectual superiority above your zeal for the lost. Don’t become so computerized that you can’t drive down that dusty road to minister to a suffering soul. Walk down the streets, and into the stores, and into the tenements and mansions, and see. Is there a lost sheep in here that I can bring to Jesus?
A pastor was once asked, “Well, how are you getting along in your new parish?” And he replied, “Well, I’m weeding them out!” “What! Weeding them out?” We ought to be compelling them to come in. Yes, we want a synod and pastors and professors and members who are seeking the lost. (George M. Orvick, “Seminary Dedication Sermon, June 15, 1997,” Lutheran Synod Quarterly 37, no. 3 [September 1997]: 8–9).