Cruce Tectum

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

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

We Will Devote Ourselves to Prayer and the Ministry of the Word

Pastor’s Window for July 2008

We Will Devote Ourselves to Prayer and the Ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4)

Beloved in the Lord,

The Office of the Holy Ministry is often called the “Ministry of the Word,” because a Christian pastor’s ministry is consumed by the Word of God. He studies the Word, God’s holy Law and Gospel, and then applies it to the lives of his sheep as each has need in their particular circumstances. To one, a warning word of God’s Law may be demanded in the interests of calling a secure sinner to repentance. To another who may be suffering under the weight and burden of sin, God’s Gospel of forgiveness in Christ, His holy absolution, must be spoken. To still another, a word of pastoral counsel and exhortation may be in order. To yet another, a word of comfort in affliction or loss is demanded. In everything, the ministry is about Word and Sacrament, applying the forgiveness of sins. A pastor is in the business of forgiving sins in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that takes place through the Word. So everything a pastor does as pastor – whether it be preaching or teaching, baptizing or administering the Lord’s Supper, hearing confessions and absolving sins, visiting the sick and shut-in, calling on members, etc., etc. – is part of “handling the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) for the purpose of forgiving sins.

That is why pastors spend so much time studying. That is why congregations usually provide their pastors with a “study.” I often refer to the room you have given me to work in as my “office,” but it is more proper to refer to it as a study, because it is the workshop where I handle the Word of Truth for the purpose of applying it to your life and forgiving your sins. The pastor’s study is a very “booky” place. All the books are about handling the Word of Truth. A lot of reading and writing and reflection go on in the pastor’s study. This is where the sermons are crafted, the Bible studies are put together, the services of God’s house are planned, the future of our life together as a congregation is envisioned. Here the pastor is devoted to the Word of God and prayer. As I mentioned last month, I pray at least one of the daily offices, either Matins or Vespers, each day, either in my study or in the sanctuary (if you ever walk in and hear me singing away, now you know what’s going on!). The pastor’s study is a place of devotion and prayer. One of the questions asked of a pastor at his ordination is, “Will you be diligent in the study of Holy Scripture and the Confessions? And will you be constant in prayer for those under your pastoral care?” (Lutheran Service Book Agenda [St. Louis: Concordia, 2006] p. 166). I answered in the affirmative (you heard me that day), and I take that promise very seriously. In addition to my daily devotions, I pray for each member of our congregation by name. That is a very important privilege and duty of the pastoral office, and hopefully a comfort to you, to know that your pastor prays for you.

But the pastor’s study is not just a place for the pastor’s private meditation. It is also a place where you can go when you need the Word of God and prayer. When you need to talk to your pastor, the study is often where we meet. When you need the Word of the Lord applied to you in a very specific way, you can always come to my study. When you need a specific prayer said for and with you, the door is always open for you. Your pastor is not a monk secluded in a monastery. The study is for you as much as it is for the pastor. His handling of the Word of Truth is for your sake. And sometimes you need that Word of Truth in a specific way, and whenever that is the case, you are invited into the study, a place you can always speak in confidence, where you can always find the Word of God and prayer, where your sins will be forgiven. (As an important side note, private confession and absolution, which usually takes place in the sanctuary, also offers a wonderful opportunity to have the Word of God applied in a very specific way, and Christ’s forgiveness applied to specific sins. Confession and Absolution are always available to you… See the What About… Confession and Absolution brochure in the narthex rack).

Of course, the ministry isn’t all reading, writing, and studying, and hopefully that was apparent in last month’s Pastor’s Window. A great deal of my time is spent teaching or on the road making visits. These activities, too, are consumed with the Word and the forgiveness of sins. But hopefully this article gives you a little more insight into what it means to be and/or have a pastor, particularly into your pastor’s study and meditation. I give thanks to God for the joy and blessing of being your pastor for the past two years. May He grant us continued peace, strength, and growth in our fellowship together around the holy Word and Sacraments.

Pastor Krenz

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