Helpful. Caring. Compassionate. Considerate. Determined. Firm. Unswayed. Unified.
These describe each person involved in the meeting I had last week with several pastors of the church body in which I had been a minister for eighteen years, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).
As, when I announced the meeting, I neither identified the ministers nor the location, so now I will not do so. Indeed, I promised to remain discreet about this, and so this recap will not provide as much information as some have been seeking. The point of my informing you is not be concerned about the who or the where, but of the importance of this topic being discussed in the LCMS with one who is directly affected by it.
The pastors’ desire was to be helpful to me in my plight. Each demonstrated a caring, compassionate heart. They were considerate of everything I explained as I sought to educate them on a topic of which they were admittedly essentially ignorant. I hope that I displayed the same attributes to them in the points they made to me.
For their part, which was predominately based in properly understanding God’s Word, they were determined and firm. Indeed, we all heard correct theology of the deepest nature, which a LCMS pastor is able to grasp and present because of the best theological education in the world as provided by its seminaries. I, especially, was blessed and strengthened in The Truth.
Each one was unswayed. No one declared, “I get it now. I was wrong. You are right.” No, these matters are not so simple. What needed to occur, and what did take place, was all of us better understanding each other.
Finally, we were unified; we were one in our Lord Jesus Christ. I am most thankful that these pastors truly heard my confession of faith and reckon me a child of God who longs to glorify Jesus Christ, just as they are and do. So, despite the areas of concern in which we could not reach consensus, which peppered the entire conversation, we remained together in Christ and departed in Christian affection and concern for one another, for the LCMS, and for the only name under heaven given to us by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Finally, how do I rate the meeting? Truly, it went as I hoped it would, and how I envisioned it. Every important thing—from God’s Word to one’s suffering gender dysphoria and living as a transgender Christian—was discussed thoroughly and well, and with respect.
Since I only have charge over me, I hope that I did my part well. A key thing for me is to have more opportunity to have conversations like this one. If I had showed myself ill-prepared to speak, no one would find me worthy of their investing any more time in me and, by extension, perhaps, this topic.
Hoping this is an opening for further meetings, I continue to pray regarding this and all things in my life: Lord Jesus, show me your good and gracious will, and help me to follow it.
I cannot close without noting that today is Reformation Day. Indeed, we are now one year shy of the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-five Theses of concerns for, and protests regarding the Church.
The following became the stance and motto of the Reformation, the first three sola (alone) points finding their conclusion in the fourth, and then the ultimate one.
Read it this way:
We found our faith on Scripture alone,
Are save by God’s grace alone,
Through the gift of faith alone,
In Jesus Christ alone.
Therefore, to God alone be the glory.
To this I affirm: Alleluia and Amen!