It’s been a challenge to know what to focus on this week, not because there’s nothing to talk about, but simply because there are so many worthwhile things “up to bat” at the moment.
For one thing, it’s National Lutheran Schools Week, which snuck up on me a bit, as I’ve been used to that emphasis occurring in February or March. In any case, though, our Lutheran Schools are an important and significant component of our Synod’s history and our ongoing commitment to serve and support the confession of Christ Jesus and the catechesis of His Word. And many of our Indiana District congregations operate Lutheran schools in partnership and tandem with the preaching and ministry of the Gospel. Within an increasingly hostile and secular environment all around us, I pray that the Lord’s Church will persevere and prosper, by His grace, in its efforts to educate children faithfully and well, in both body and soul, for this life and the life to come. And with those very goals I mind, I am hopeful that our District’s study and consideration of classical Lutheran education will be a blessing and a benefit to all of our schools in a variety of ways.
Whether by design or coincidence, this is also National School Choice Week, which celebrates and promotes the freedom of parents to choose and provide the best education for their children, whether by way of public, private, online, or home education. We are especially fortunate here in Indiana, because our state recognizes and supports this freedom and responsibility that belongs to fathers and mothers for their own sons and daughters. And I’m pleased and proud to say that one of our Indiana District schools, Resurrection Lutheran Academy in South Bend, was one of two schools chosen by the Institute for Quality Education to represent Indiana this week. I do find it encouraging, as well, that “homeschooling” is acknowledged alongside other education options.
For my part, I had been intending to focus on what I have long thought of as “pastor appreciation week,” that is, the block of time from the Confession of St. Peter (last Thursday, 18 Jan) through the Festivals of St. Timothy (24 Jan), the Conversion of St. Paul (25 Jan), and St. Titus (26 Jan). Of course, St. Peter and St. Paul were more than simply pastors, but, as Prof. Marquart put it so well, the pastoral office is the ordinary continuation of the extraordinary apostolic ministry. And it is for good reason that St. Paul’s letters to St. Timothy and St. Titus are known as the Pastoral Epistles, since they convey the qualifications, duties, and responsibilities of the pastoral office. If one also takes into account the commemorations of Wilhelm Loehe (2 Jan), St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and St. Gregory of Nyssa (10 Jan), and St. John Chrysostom (27 Jan), it seems to me that a compelling case could be made for January to be pastor appreciation month. But the more important point is that these apostles, bishops, pastors, and preachers of the church, along with all of our fathers in Christ who have gone before us in the Ministry of His Gospel, are an example and encouragement to those who bear and serve the pastoral office in our own day.
Finally, this week also affords the opportunity to confess and celebrate the precious sanctity of human life, over against all efforts and attempts to cheapen, abuse, neglect, and/or destroy the life of human beings (at whatever age), each of whom is created in the Image and Likeness of God for redemption, resurrection, and eternal Life in Christ Jesus. I am so grateful for the many individuals from our Indiana District who are working, in a wide variety of capacities, to serve and support the teachings of the Church in this regard, and so also to help, defend, and protect their neighbors in this body and life on earth. I’m likewise thankful for those who participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., this past week, and for those marching in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne over the course of this week. God grant that the faithful witness of His people will encourage others to recognize and receive His good gift of life in holy faith and holy love.