Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Blessed

I’ve been blessed, but it didn’t always feel like a blessing.  Permit me to explain.  My Dad, from the first day I laid eyes on him, was a pastor.  I also had an uncle that was a pastor in northern Wisconsin. (He sure loved to go ice fishing!) I had another uncle, that was a pastor in England, and, at one point, he was president of the Lutheran Church of England, and I dare not neglect to mention that I had yet another uncle that was a missionary in Nigeria.

That’s a lot of clergy!  For me it was all very “normal,” of course.  It was great having “adopted grandparents,” people like the Buchanan’s in Illinois, when I was a blond-haired toddler, along with my twin brother in tow.  These two very generous parishioners sure made us feel special!  However, I also remember the difficulties we lived through, such as the extra work it was for my mom to get us to church on time and keep us under control.  I also remember the hurt and anger caused by careless and callous remarks made to my father about the length of sermons, and other such “concerns.”  Anyone who doesn’t think that hurtful words don’t also impact a pastor’s family have another thing coming.   Pastors and church-workers sacrifice so much for the people they love so dearly.  Most people truly have no idea.

Yet, what a rich childhood it was, and what a plethora of life-and-ministry lessons presented themselves! I saw people at their worst and best, from the highs to the lows, and I went from practicing saying the Lord’s Prayer to learning Luther’s Evening prayer to planting a tree in the church lawn to getting a behind the scenes look at a new church addition or two being built to peeking at Greek I knew how to multiply or divide… I drank in deeply daily routine of church life that is never very routine at all.

Now, at Christ Lutheran, I consider myself very blessed to be surrounded by other pastors and church workers—including Pastor Andrew—and by Pastor Mark and all those that have preceded.  It’s profoundly meaningful to be on the same team!  It’s been priceless, in the past 21 years at Christ Lutheran, truly priceless, to see lived out the words of St. Paul: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:5–9, ESV)

This is the background and rationale why, Pastor Andrew and his family and I and mine are joining in donating new pew & worship ESV Bibles to the family of faith at Christ Lutheran. These Bibles will soon be dedicated, and we are donating them in joyful commemoration of all who have joined in the labor of love that we have shared with them, a noble calling, a divine task: the pastoral ministry. It’s good to have the pew Bibles match the version of the Bible that we use most of the time, here, too, and it’s also important to connect with our history and to remember those who led us in faith, to say the very least, as we are reminded in the book of Hebrews: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” (Hebrews 13:15–18, ESV)

Notice that pastors (i.e., under-shepherds) are, above all else, accountable to God.  We sure don’t take that lightly, for God has given us a solemn charge.  As Peter writes, “…shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2–3, ESV) And again as Paul says in the book of Titus, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9, ESV)

Like many things in life, to be a pastor would be overwhelming if we contemplated in its entirety all that is required, and no one, no one can do it by their own strength.  It is only in the strength of the Lord that we dare to begin each day’s tasks. It is only as servants that we lead.  Ultimately, then, all praise and thanks to God, who “…gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11–12, ESV) To that, I can only humbly and joyfully respond to God’s Word with a hearty amen as I live out my life, a life God has so graciously given!

In Christ’s love, Pastor Daryn

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