Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is lovely, if there is anything excellent and worthy of praise, think on these things.
Events and happenings of the past week have reminded me of words written by the first president of our synod. It was February 27, 1885 when Pastor C.F.W. Walther said in his 20th evening lecture:
Since October 2014 when I was installed as pastor of Zion, I have on many occasions stated publicly,
Whoever serves as pastor at Zion Staunton is a blessed pastor. For the duration of this article I'd like to magnify that statement; sharing only a smidge of the honor, privilege, blessing, and joy that is mine as your pastor.
The greatest of all for a pastor is preaching and teaching the Word and the Divine Service which culminates in our Lord's holy supper. No greater joy, no higher honor can be had than when the people of God gather to confess our sins, confess our Savior and His Word, and then to confess our love as we respond by singing, praying, and bringing our gifts to support God's mission. For the church, the high point is when the people of God share the gifts of God, as we do in baptism and holy communion. Right here at the corner of Henry and Elm, Isaiah's words ring true:
Come all of you who thirst, come to the waters; and you without money come, buy, and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost! With the ringing of the bell, each service the Lord invites all to seek him in His Word and to receive His good and satisfying gifts.
The second joy to share is my time spent with members. Our shared time takes place in worship, Sunday school, day-school, catechism, board meetings, organizations and with members in their homes, nursing homes, Glenwood, beside hospital beds, etc... Whatever the setting, the fellowship, faith-life, and the conversation with the saints of God is to my joy and edification. It has become part of my ministry to put forward a 'question of the month' to which God's saints have opportunity to respond. Then it is my blessing to listen; invariably the answers given describe God's faithfulness and grace over the journey of life. Can't help but think of that word of the Psalmist,
One generation will declare your works to the next, and will proclaim your mighty acts. Of Zion, the words of the old spiritual hymn ring true,
What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus. David's words in Psalm 16 declare,
As for the saints, they are the glorious ones in whom is my delight.
And so across many years, going back to 1847, through 'good times and bad' the Shepherd of Zion has filled with His gifts and sent forth His church. Today the opportunity before us is GREAT! Friends, we have the 'corner' on God's grace. Each and every week, as we hold forth the very bread of life, and as we proclaim Christ crucified and risen from the dead - the miracle of God's life is renewed. Having filled us with His Gospel, Jesus sends us out as His faithful, joyful servants to show forth His light in our lives.
Privilege, blessing, joy, shared life in Christ - what I leave you with is this: Zion Lutheran Church is a great congregation. Zion is blessed with joyful, faithful, hard-working, generously - sacrificially giving servants. And I am thankful for and even proud of you as your pastor. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
~ Pastor Kelly G. Mitteis