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Confessing Christ for the Next Generation 

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Prayer List:

Rev. Tim Benninghoff who is recovering and rehabilitating after another surgery.

Rev. Steve Thomas and his family at the death of his brother Marcus.

The family of Karen Friedrich, 5th grade teacher at Elm Grove Lutheran School, as well as the staff and members at Elm Grove in your prayers. Karen was called home unexpectedly. Karen faithfully served her Lord for 39 years as an elementary teacher, with the past 17 years at Elm Grove.


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July 30, 2014
It's About Christ! 

Brothers in the Office of the Holy Ministry:


The following words are adapted from a sermon, which I recently preached for the ordination and installation of a young seminarian into his first call. The text is 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.


Paul's ministry and his message are not about himself, but rather about the One who had called him to repentance on the Way to Damascus. Paul's message, his ministry and his own personal faith are defined by the One who wrapped himself in human flesh in the womb of the virgin, who was crucified and who rose from the grave. Paul's message, his ministry and his own personal faith are defined by the only who ascended into heaven and now once again sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. That's why Paul measures his ministry early on in 1 Corinthians 2, writing: "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."


Likewise the Office of a Lutheran pastor is not about you, not about me. We are not building a kingdom for ourselves. There is no fame or fortune to be had in the pastoral office. There is no power or influence to be wielded apart from the Holy Word of our God. The Pastoral Office is not about what we want, not even about what we want to see happen. But there is the temptation to throw our weight around, to insist on our way, to be little popes. After all, we are sinners just like the people who extended you a call to serve in your parish. Turn around; take a look at the people at the people you serve. There is not a perfect person among them. Take a look at the ordained brothers. There is not a perfect person there. Now, what do God's people, when they consider you? You are not perfect person either. Have you found yourself in the corner lately with the publican, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" No wonder the Prophet Isaiah says, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."


For that reason it always makes my Lutheran blood boil whenever a pastor preaches a sermon or stands before God's people, using the first person singular "I". "I" "I" "I" "I" "I".  That is nothing more than self-centered foolishness! Prattle! Nonsense! Of such is the beginning of error. Better is to follow the example of Martin Luther. In commenting on Psalm 45 Luther states, "In the ministry I have completely forgotten this monk, nor does anyone hear his name from me."The church is not about us, the ordained. The ministry is not about us. As we read in the Treatise, "Paul makes ministers equal, and teaches that the Church is above the ministers."[Triglotta, Treatise] We are diakonia. The church is the Bride of Christ. As ministers we are servants of our Lord and His church. The message is the saving Gospel about our Lord Jesus Christ. Luther remarks:"For we must believe and be sure that Baptism is not ours, but Christ's; that the preaching office is not ours, but Christ's ; that the Sacrament is not ours, but Christ's; that the Keys or the forgiving and retaining of sins are not ours, but Christ's. In short, the offices and Sacraments are not ours, but Christ's, for He has instituted them all and left them to the Church to be administered and used till the end of the world." That is the message that you have been called by our Lord through His church to proclaim.

In one of our hymns we sing, "Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus, can my heartfelt longing still."The Gospel is about the Christ, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus. You are set apart today by the rite of ordination for service to Him, to proclaim that message to His people. You join a brotherhood of men whose lives and passion are dedicated to proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior for sinful mankind. In recent times that has become more challenging and difficult for those who serve in this Office. We serve in an increasingly hostile environment where itching ears crave something other than the message that has stood the test of time. For that reason those who serve in the Office these days have a better understanding of the meaning of what Paul says to the Corinthians, "Our Sufficiency is from God". The Lord of the church qualifies men to serve as pastors. Yet the Office is His. The message is His. The Lord of the church has made you competent to be a minister of the new covenant. You are His servant among His people, sharing His gifts with His people.


Our ministry is not defined by the Law; but by the Gospel. The Law is necessary for it is about God's holiness and our shortcomings, our sin. The Gospel is about the gifts that our Lord Jesus has earned for sinners like us, and which He distributes to us through Word and Sacrament. The Gospel gifts are faith, forgiveness and eternal life. The Gospel gifts are the incarnation of God's only Son where he becomes true man, His perfect obedience on our behalf, His vicarious sacrifice on the cross, His death, and His resurrection. As Paul describes a bit later: "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Article V of the Augsburg Confession that is as timely today as when the ink was still damp puts it this way:

  • That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2] the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3] the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake.

May our gracious Lord bless His faithful servants!

SWD News & Updates
Something to Consider:

Words from C.F.W. Walther, the first president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod   regarding the Office of the Holy Ministry, a sermon dated Epiphany 2, 1862:    

Behold how great, how broad, how all encompassing the task of a preacher is! He is to teach those entrusted to him what they should know for their salvation. He is to admonish them regarding what they are to do. If they have not done it, he is to rebuke them. When they suffer earthly need, he shall assist them in their need. He shall be concerned that the entire congregation and every individual be maintained in holy discipline and order. Where consolation and help are needed, he shall be the Good Samaritan of the congregation, ready with mercy. Thus the great task of his office is to see to it that no one in his entire congregation is abandoned and suffers need without assistance, whether it be in external [physical] or internal [spiritual/psychological] matters, in bodily matters or spiritual matters. He sees to it that everyone who belongs to the holy brotherhood of Christ is well cared for. He shall receive the whole as much as the individual, the child as much as the elderly, the uneducated as much as the educated, the weak as much as the strong, the fallen as much as those who stand, those joyful in God as much as the deeply troubled, the poor as much as the rich, the sick as much as the well, the fortunate as much as the unfortunate, outcast, and persecuted, the dying as the living - indeed the very dead themselves, that they like Christ would be brought to rest in burial. All this shall be the concern of his heart. And this shall be his concern at opportune or inopportune times, in evil or good days, in times of rich earthly blessing as much as in times of hunger and pestilence, in war and in peace, publicly and privately.


How does your ministry fare in comparison to those words?


Concordia Health Plans:   
Attached are two documents from our insurer. The first defines the changes that took place July 1. The second is a listing of Resources, phone numbers, should you need them. Following my recent surgery Express Scripts messed up a prescription. After more than an hour on the phone with several different Express Scripts agents, I called the CHP number for help. Within a few hours the problem was resolved. So don't hesitate to call the CHP numbers for assistance.


  Supporting Your Retirement Flyer                CPH Resources Flyer  



It's Time to...Participate in Determining the Synod's Priorities...Postcard #4 from the Office of the Synod Secretary:   

This is still new. It is time for your congregation to participate in our Synod's new process for determining its mission and ministry emphases (areas in which the Synod should concentrate attention and efforts) for the next Synod triennium. That process begins during the voters meeting that your congregation already will be calling to give attention to other district and Synod convention business.  


Congregations Submit Ideas to their Circuit Forums: 
The circuit forum provides an opportunity for your congregation to voice its opinion regarding mission and ministry areas where the Synod should concentrate efforts - ethnic ministry, rural ministry, family ministry, church worker recruitment, etc. This is your congregation's opportunity to influence the mission and ministry of the Synod. According to Synod Bylaw 4.2.1 (b): The district convention is the instrument to receive overtures (Bylaw, including overtures and recommendations for synod wide mission and ministry emphases submitted by member congregations and adopted by a circuit forum.

If your circuit has some item which you feel should given attention at the LCMS.org level, please draft an appropriate resolution and submit it to the 2015 SWD Convention. 


The 2015 SWD Convention is set for June 7-9, 2015!

 In a conversation with emeritus District President Ed Suelflow we learned that SWD was formed in 1915, which makes this next summer's convention our Centennial Convention. The convention planning committee is working on including a special thanksgiving celebration as part of the convention.


Mission Trips to Dominican Republic:

If your congregation or a group of congregations is interested in helping out with our foreign mission focus in the DR, there are plenty of opportunities for mission trips during the next year. Most Ministries now coordinates those trips for the DR partnership. Several items are designated exclusively for those who are "partners" in the effort; and that includes SWD. If you want to learn more, head to: www.mostministries.org From there go to "team schedule". At least one item is not on the list, but soon will be. That is, a building project for our church in Jamaica. All the details just aren't in place for that quite yet...but they should be before long.
_____________________________________________________________________________RCW Golf Outing______ 
SWD Church Worker Golf Outing:  Monday, August 11, 2014 at Rock River Hills, Horicon. See attached flyer.   


PW's Meanderings:

August 1 
Madison area visitations
August 4 
Rev. Don Johnson from Lutheran Indian Ministries at the SWD office
August 5  golfing the Irish course
August 6  visits in Central Wisconsin
August 8  wedding in Western Wisconsin, in cooperation with SOTH Onalaska
August 11  Mayo Clinic follow up
August 18/19  SWD executive staff at IC in St. Louis for revitalization conversation
August 20-22 ordination/installation of Brian German at CUW opening chapel service
August 26  visitation St. Matthew's, Warren, WI 

Support Needed for a New Deaconess in the Dominican Republic:

The good news is that the outreach and ministry of the Dominican Republic mission start have been greatly blessed!  With those blessings come growing ministry needs.  One of which was highlighted in a request from Rev. Ted Krey, lead missionary in the DR and LCMS Regional Director.  Ted writes in an email:

I have a deaconess, Gail Ludvisgon who is in need of support for her personal support.  Do you have any congregations in which she could talk or that you could point me to.  Does the district itself have anything that could help us to push her towards this goal?  She is already 20 percent funded, so another 50 percent and we would have her on her way.  She will be writing curriculum for deaconesses not only for the Dominican Republic, but also Latin America.


Serving as district president, I thank you the people, congregations, and pastor of SWD for the way in which you have so generously supported the DR mission over the past seven years!  So many good things are happening there as the Word is proclaimed and the Sacraments administered.  A solidly Lutheran church body is emerging!   


If you can assist in supporting this new deaconess who serves in the Dominican Republic, we will all be blessed; and I will be grateful to you! 

Pre-Retirement Workshops:
September 12, 2014 from 9 am - 3 pm at Bethlehem 300 Broadway Dr. Sun Prairie 
September 13, 2014 from 9 am - 3 pm at SWD office 8100 W. Capitol Dr. Milwaukee

Concordia Plan services and the South Wisconsin District are hosting two 1-day workshops for professional workers and their spouses to help them understand the process and importance of planning for retirement.  There is no cost for you to attend a workshop.  The district will be providing morning refreshments and lunch.  Advance registration is needed to make sure you have the materials and a seat, so please register with the district office, Karen, no later than Monday August 22, 2014.  We will need your name, spouses name if attending, an email address and phone number.   Please make sure that all benefit-eligible workers at your church or school are aware of this workshop! 

See Workshop Flyer 

South Wisconsin District - LCMS | 414-464-8100 |
8100 West Capitol Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53222

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