My Blessed Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I pray your summer is going to afford you opportunity for some rest and relaxation. As I have shared before, Jesus took time to rest from his labors. It is much needed in order to serve in the vocations the Lord of the Church has given to us.
On Sunday June 12 at 2:00, a final worship service of Vespers was conducted at Christ Lutheran Church in Waterloo, IA. It was a service by which Christ Lutheran would be given her rest from all her labors. At the end of the service I spoke the words “This congregation is no longer open for Word and Sacrament Ministry.” It was much more difficult for me to say than I had expected. As I looked at the 12 remaining members of Christ sitting in the front pew, each holding an item from the Sanctuary at which they had received God’s precious grace for 60 years, I saw the sadness in their eyes. They were not angry, they were not looking to blame anyone. Each of them had tears of sadness over all the memories they shared in that assembly together. They also shed tears of eternal gratitude. It was at that font some of them were brought into the Kingdom of God. It was from that lectern and pulpit that the Word of God came to them full of grace and truth. It was from that altar that they were fed the resurrected and living Body and Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and certainty of salvation. Heavenly, holy things came to them from that locality. They were grateful.
As we all know, created things will pass away. The Lord of the Church will use them as He has need while they are usable. The Holy Temple served its purpose until it gave way to the “Son of the Living God”. The congregations planted by St. Paul may no longer exist but the Word he preached to plant them is still being proclaimed by missionaries around the world. Christ Lutheran in Waterloo no longer is open for Word and Sacrament Ministry but the baptized and forgiven still live on in other congregations where they are fed and give witness to Christ in their daily vocations. Christ Lutheran was used by God for His intended purpose and now she is at rest. We give thanks for the clergy, church workers, and laity who served in and through Christ Lutheran over the past 60 years.
I also want to share with you that June is the month when two men began their Call by God as they were ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry. On June 19 Bradley Ferch was ordained and installed at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Davenport. Sunday, June 26, Isaac Johnson was ordained and installed at Risen Christ Lutheran Church in Davenport. We praise the Lord Almighty for sending workers into His harvest. Pray for them as they enter into the labor of the Lord. They will be your fellow servants in contention with Satan and his demons. The Office they will fill is the Office of Christ Jesus who has defeated Satan and told Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against the gates of heaven. Pray that these men and all our workers remain strong, committed, studious and faithful to the Holy Word and the Lutheran Confessions.
Take your rest this summer and at the same time take up the armor of God for yourself and your fellow servants. The battle rages on each day in order to defend your sheep from the Evil One. At the same time the battle is done, the victory is gained, the Lord of the Church redeems His people.
God be with and bless you all.