OFFICE OF NATIONAL MISSION
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is forbrethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1).
By the Rev. J. Bart DayExecutive Director o the LCMSOfce o National Mission
Life Together a Gift
Life Together begins in Christ.There is no life apart from the one“through whom all things weremade” (John 1:3). The life of Christ isthe life of the world, our life together.The miracle of the Incarnation is thatour Lord descended to take up our
life. He wears our fallen human esh,
that He might bear our sin and be ourSavior. In His bloody enthronementat Calvary, He draws all creation toHimself. Here is our salvation. Here isour life together.In the Divine Service, our Lordlovingly invites us to eucharistic eat-ing and drinking. With His body and blood, we proclaim His death and
receive His life. The crucie One
gives us the gift of forgiveness andthe seal of immortality. As He is, sowe shall be. The post-Communioncollect roots our life in Christ and ourlife together in that same: “We givethanks to You, almighty God, thatYou have refreshed us through thissalutary gift, and we implore You thatof Your mercy You would strengthenus through the same in faith towardYou and in fervent love toward oneanother.”The living Christ creates “ferventlove toward one another.” The work of the Church in
ows from an to the
cross. What joy and freedom we havein serving our Lord and His holy bride, the Church. We are no longer burdened by the Law’s requirements.The Gospel, Christ in us, compelsus to share His Word to the ends of the earth, to share the mercy andlove of Christ with those in need,and to share in the corporate life of the Church. Life together is the best
living. Selsh ambition an prie
disappear as we pray for and supportthe body of Christ. We belong to oneanother only through and in JesusChrist.In his little book
,Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers severalhelpful insights into our life together.For Bonhoeffer, our life together isa concrete reality. God is not a Godof emotions but a God of truth. Thattruth is revealed in the divine revela-tion of the Word and the Word made
esh. The justie sinner lives in thecommunity of sanctication, a gift
from God that no man can claim. Lifetogether is a gift.
Of course, the boy an all its
members suffer under the delusionsand false advertising of the world, thedevil and our own sinful nature. Thepromise of power, prestige and pos-sessions always comes at the expenseof hurting those we love the most.
Our life together becomes a life of
isolation. The body and communitysuffer. The powerful in the commu-nity weed out the undesirables. AsBonhoeffer notes: “The exclusion of
the weak an insignicant, the seem
-ingly useless people, from a Christiancommunity may actually mean the ex-clusion of Christ; in the poor brother,
Christ is knocking at the oor.” Our
life together includes all for whomour Lord died: the world. The body of Christ cares and comforts in word anddeed.
As the Ofce of National Mission
(Life Together) begins it work, wepray that the Lord will strengthen andsupport the work of our Synod. The
Ofce of National Mission is oing
the work of “Home Mission.” Theworld is at our door. The challengesfacing the Church in our post-Chris-tian culture can appear overwhelm-ing. In the face of such challenges, theChurch must stand ready to proclaimthe Gospel boldly. Being a faithfulLutheran has never been more critical.The world is crying out for authenticconfession and genuine life together.The Church has both to offer.
Our Work in Life Together
The newly create Ofce of Na
-tional Mission oversees most of thedomestic work of the Synod. Therehave been plenty of challenges toface during the restructuring process, but there have also been unexpectedsurprises. As one person put it, “Therestructuring process is like cleaningout your hallway closet, the one younever touch until you are forced to.Yet once you start digging around,you are amazed at the treasures thathave been forgotten and unused formany years.” As the Synod is workingto better communicate and collaborateon projects, new and exciting oppor-tunities for mission are being discov-ered. For this we give thanks.
The Ofce of National Mission
is made up of six departments.They include the work of the former
continued on page 4
nd when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no onebut Jesus only”
(Matt. 17:8 ESV).Jesus only. In this instance “Jesus only” wasa letdown for Peter, James and John. They’d just
glimpse glory on the Mount of Transguration,
complete with Moses and Elijah. No time to build booths. It was back to the grind of preaching, teaching and healing. At
the en of the transguration chapter comes another isturbing passion
prediction by Jesus:
“’The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.’ And they were greatly distressed”
(Matt. 17:22–23).Their only option was Jesus.
“Lord, to whom shall we go?”
(John 6:68). Allor nothing. Jesus or nothing. But with Jesus came suffering and death. Theirknowledge would remain partial until they’d seen the risen Christ.
death for our transgressions, raised for our justication”
(Rom. 4:25). And then, just one thing remained: Jesus only. The apostles, just like us, wavered and
still ha the esh about their necks (Gal. 2; Acts 15:39), but trials an crosses
always threw them back upon Jesus only.
“I have suffered the loss of all things
and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
(Phil. 3:8).Service in the church is often very hard business. We come into thesevocations having been encouraged by our pastors, teachers, fellowChristians and family. “You’dmake a good pastor!” “You’d be a
wonerful teacher!” Soon we n
that it’s not all Moses and Elijah inglory. Not at all. Times of joy may be punctuated with long periodsof deep trials, congregations inturmoil, challenging relationshipswith staff and church members.The stress of disappointment andgossip can sap all energy, throwpastors into lethargy, parch preaching and drive us to separate ourselvesfrom the world. If I could change just one thing in the Missouri Synod bywaving a magic wand, I’d turn every bit of gossip and unhealthy complaintabout church workers into a prayer for them. Valid critique and appropriateaccountability are good things, but they also require careful and positiveimplementation, preferably while things are going well.And it’s not just the “weak” church workers who have this experience.C. F. W. Walther, Friedrich Wyneken, Franz Pieper and FriedrichPfotenhauer (and for that matter, Luther himself) all had serious and long-lasting struggles with stress-related depression and breakdown. After tellingWalther about his life-long struggle with depression, Wyneken wrote:The longer and the more I have suffered under my heavy spiritual
[i.e., trials, struggles], I have experienced in a practicalway the necessity and importance of pure doctrine. Since every
octrine is connecte with justication, an unergirs it—inee,
proceeds from it as from the center [of the faith], and leads back to
it—I have foun in this octrine my only stay in the mist of myifculties (
At Home in the House of My Fathers
, p. 425).
Wyneken’s trials force him to the heart of it all—justication—Jesus,put to eath for our transgressions, raise for our justication. Jesus only.We all pass through times of trial an ifculty. I’m very thankful for those
trials I experienced in the parish because they have made me much moresympathetic to others and much more compassionate. Such trials leave usclinging to Jesus only.
“Lord, to whom shall we go?”
And wonderfully, andsomewhat ironically, they render us ever more to be “little Christs” to our brothers and sisters in their challenging moments, so that we can come tothem with “Jesus only:”
“Whatsoever you have done to the least of these . . .”
(Matt. 25:40). Perhaps Paul said it best:
“But we have this treasure in jars of
clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us”
(2 Cor. 4:7).When we began the trek into this church work business, they told us,“You’ll be a good pastor or teacher or . . .” But the way we become such
workers is the Jesus way—
”the Son of man must suffer many things.”
through such trials are we reduced to “Jesus only.”
Pastor Matthew Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Syno
“Service in thechurch is often