Our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod will be gathering for Convention in Milwaukee at the end of next week, with Floor Committees reconvening on Friday and then holding open hearings on Saturday. The Convention itself opens with the Divine Service on Saturday evening, and then proceeds with Matins, the President’s Report, and other business on Sunday, the 30th of July. It is of course appropriate and significant that the pastoral and lay delegates representing the Circuits of our Church fellowship should be gathered by and for the Word of God and prayer. Whatever business we conduct over the course of the Convention, whatever actions we take, and whatever plans for the future we may officially adopt, it is God’s Word that must ever guide and govern our life together in the confession of Christ Jesus.
I do realize and understand that it is easy to become cynical about the political side of Synod life, especially when “church politics” can too often seem little different from the shenanigans of the worldly sphere. Even so, the political process, properly speaking – along with good government, good order, and pious and faithful leaders – is among God’s good gifts of daily bread, which we do not despise but receive with thanksgiving. And at least some of the “backroom politics” that happens behind the scenes is simply an aspect of the conversation and consolation of brothers engaged in discussion and debate of important matters pertaining to the life of the Church. Let us neither disdain the official processes that we have in place, nor deny the benefit and necessity of less formal interactions, as we strive together to be faithful in our callings to the glory of Christ.
The Synod Convention does engage in matters of importance, impacting our public confession of God’s Word and faith, our fellowship with each other and with other churches, and our response to the challenges confronting the Church in these gray and latter days of sore distress. While we do want to be patient and kind, merciful, and compassionate in our dealings with those outside the Church, it is necessary for the sake of faith and love, life, and salvation, that we remain clear and consistent in speaking the Truth. As it is the Word of God that alone bestows the Spirit and Life – to us and to our neighbors – we dare not compromise or contradict what He has spoken, neither His good and righteous Law nor His sweet and precious Holy Gospel. Sometimes that means stating the obvious and repeating ourselves, from one Convention to the next, if only to affirm the steadiness and consistency of our Lord’s unchanging Truth. And if those very things are counter-cultural and make us unpopular and out of sync with the world around us, so much the more do they need to be spoken. By the same token, in matters of contention among us, let us be courageous and persistent in hearing God’s Word and striving for consensus in that Truth.
Whether or not you are going to the Convention, yourself, as a voting or advisory delegate, please do remember in your prayers and intercessions all who will be gathering in Milwaukee between the 27th of July and the 3rd of August. God grant them wisdom and discernment in their deliberations and decisions, and blessed peace in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.