Circuit Fellowship and Unity of Practice
Along with Closed Communion, such as I discussed briefly last week, two of the other priorities that I have determined to set before our Indiana District are the importance of actively engaging our synod fellowship at the circuit level and the salutary benefit of a unified worship practice among our pastors and congregations. I realize that these are challenging goals in some respects, and I don’t imagine that we can achieve them overnight. But they are worthy of every effort.
To those very ends, I was delighted to spend a “day of theological reflection” with the brothers from the Columbus, Aurora, and Seymour Circuits, discussing the appropriate use of freedom in worship. I commend those circuits for holding such an event each year, for the express purpose of fraternal conversation and discussion of theology. What an outstanding example that is of the very thing that strengthens and sustains our fellowship as ministers of the Word of Christ! As I’ve noted in the past, our Synod really lives and actively operates as a fellowship of the Church especially within our circuits; and if it doesn’t do so there, where pastors and congregations live in proximity to each other, then it’s certainly not going to do so on the district or national level.
I had the privilege of leading the discussion at this year’s “day of theological reflection,” and for that purpose I shared a series of theses that I have developed and worked on over the past many years, aiming at an understanding of the freedoms that we have – in worship, as in life – and the way those freedoms are used rightly, in faith and love, to glorify God and to love our neighbors. I’ll not try to summarize those theses here, but, to paraphrase St. Paul and borrow from Luther, whereas all things are free to us before God in Christ, not all things are ‘meet, right, and salutary’ to the duty and obligation that we have to serve one another in love. That is true in all of life on earth, and so also in our worship under the Cross, as we await in hope the Resurrection. And it is my hope and prayer that we will have opportunities to discuss and debate and discern how best to love and serve one another in these areas in our life together as the Indiana District.