13 July 2010

New President, Old Message

This afternoon the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod in convention elected the Rev. Matthew Harrison to serve as its next and 13th president. Very interesting in light of the power-centralizing measures that the convention has also approved in the past couple of days.

I thank our gracious God for His servant Rev. Harrison - yes, for his recent election as LCMS President, but even more so for his faithful service as a sinner relying solely on God's forgiveness in Christ Jesus. It's truly the age-old message on which the Church lives, survives and thrives. Rev. Harrison's remarks right after being elected said it all.

First, he cited St. Paul's words from 1 Corinthians 12:26: "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." What a fabulous verse to acknowledge the reality of an election such as this! Yes, those whose candidate did not get elected are suffering, and we suffer with them. And those whose candidate did get elected are rejoicing, but let's do so in the same humility with which Rev. Harrison approaches his new responsibility.

Then Rev. Harrison commented on his need for forgiveness, asked for forgiveness from the assembly for any and all against whom he had sinned, and offered his forgiveness to any who had sinned against him. Now that's a great way to begin a presidency: focusing on the forgiveness that comes from Christ Jesus and that we are called upon to bestow on and share with one another. That's the age-old message that heals and binds us together as the Body of Christ.

I truly treasure the humorous comment Rev. Harrison made regarding the LCMS convention and himself. To paraphrase, he commended the convention for keeping its perfect record of electing a sinner to serve as president of the LCMS. Nothing new is needed! The age-old message of sinners in need of Christ's forgiveness - especially sinners who are put in positions of leadership - and sinners truly receiving that cross-won forgiveness is the healing balm that we all need, both inside and outside the LCMS.

So I will continue to pray for God's mercy to be showered upon Rev. Harrison and the LCMS, especially as he takes on this new mantle and our church body learns to follow his lead. I also commend to Rev. Harrison and to all who serve in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod these words from St. Paul:

"This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found [faithful]" (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

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