Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Reflecting on the Past, Envisioning the Future

Pastor’s Window on July, 2007

Reflecting on the Past, Envisioning the Future

Beloved in the Lord,

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year now since I was ordained and installed as your pastor. Time flies when you’re having fun! What a blessing and privilege it has been to serve as your pastor over the past year. Thank you. There is nothing I would rather do with my life. I thank God for you, His people, whom He has created and redeemed. And I thank Him for using me, His unworthy servant, as His undershepherd in this place.

This one-year anniversary provides a good opportunity to reflect back on the year past and share with you my vision for Epiphany’s future. We have much about which to rejoice here at Epiphany. The Lord has been good to us. He has blessed us with a hunger for His Word, a rich sacramental life, and sincere love and care for one another. He has given us the desire to be faithful in both doctrine and mission, uncompromising when it comes to our Lutheran identity, seeking to boldly proclaim the Gospel to a world lost in sin and death. We give thanks to God for the many Bible study opportunities offered at Epiphany, our Sunday School, VBS, choir, Wednesday night suppers, food truck, youth group, Adult Information Class (AIC), youth catechism class, LWML, and the list could go on and on. This is the Lord’s work in us. Not unto us be the glory, but unto the Lord our God may all glory be given. For all that we have is a gift from Him.

My prayer is that we continue in our commitment to authentic Lutheran doctrine/practice and mission. The two go hand in hand. They are inseparable. As a result, my vision for the future of Epiphany emphasizes both.

Doctrine/Practice: The people of Epiphany have a strong desire to know what it means to be Lutheran. Our doctrine is what provides us with our Lutheran identity, and our practice is that doctrine and identity manifesting itself in the life of the congregation. My goals in the area of doctrine include: 1. More faithful church attendance… Be in church every Sunday to receive the Word of life and the Sacrament of our Lord’s body and blood (see next month’s article on the importance of church attendance). 2. Increased attendance at Bible studies. If you do not currently attend one of Epiphany’s Bible studies, consider joining one. You can only be strengthened by attending. Come and grow in the knowledge of God’s Word with us. 3. Knowledge and appreciation of the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord. These documents are the Lutheran confession of Scriptural doctrine written on paper for the whole world to read. We have already begun to explore our Lutheran Confessions with our emphasis on Luther’s Small Catechism, one of the confessional documents. 4. Greater appreciation for the sacramental/liturgical life of the Church. The liturgy is primarily sacramental: God giving His gifts to us in Baptism, preaching, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. Only then is it sacrificial: Our response of praise and thanksgiving. Epiphany has carved a niche for herself as a sacramental and liturgical congregation. Let’s grow in our knowledge of why we do the things we do, and practice doing them well. 5. One particular emphasis in the coming year will be the theology of mercy. Our Lord is merciful to us in forgiving us all our sins. He now lives within us and uses us as His hands of mercy to the world. This leads us to our second emphasis…

Mission/Evangelism: Mission and evangelism proceed from our doctrine and practice. As one former LCMS president put it: “Get the message right, Missouri! Get the message out, Missouri!” Right doctrine always leads to mission and evangelism. The two are inseparable. Our mission paradigm is provided by Jesus Himself: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20; ESV). How do you make disciples? Baptizing and teaching! Some of my goals for Epiphany in the area of mission/evangelism include: 1. Expanding our Adult Information Class (AIC) by including it as a budget line item next year and getting the word out into our community. The AIC provides a non-threatening, no-obligation opportunity for members of the community (and members of the congregation!) to learn about the Christian Faith (teaching) free of charge, and may lead to membership (Baptism). 2. We need to start thinking about a pre-school. Our district president/bishop fully supports the establishing of a pre-school at Epiphany. A Lutheran pre-school is a place where the little lambs of our Good Shepherd are cared for body and soul. Their minds are molded by the Holy Scriptures and God’s good gifts in creation (teaching). In many cases, the teaching of Holy Baptism leads the children, and quite often their parents, to desire Baptism and church membership. 3. Invite your friends and neighbors to church! Especially if they don’t currently have a church. That’s one of the most effective ways our congregation can grow as the Holy Spirit works through His Word. Give it a try. 4. Increased visibility and participation in our local community. We already do some of this with our food truck and parade float. In October we will be participating in the Wayland Expo. Let’s be thinking about more ways we can contribute to our community. 5. Increased awareness and support of our global mission. Jesus said to His apostles, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Our mission begins in Dorr, Michigan, but it does not end there. We should devote our resources to proclaiming the Gospel both locally and to the ends of the earth.

Much more could be said about my vision for Epiphany’s future, but space does not permit. This is only the beginning. May God continue to grant us faithfulness as His people in this place. Pray for your congregation. Participate in the life of your congregation. And please continue to pray for me.

“Almighty God, grant to Your Church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Collect for the Church, LSB p. 305).

Pastor Krenz

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