I had the privilege of being on Long Island this past week, participating in preaching and teaching at Trinity Lutheran, then participating and reporting at the East Region convention. Good weather, good friends, and informative.
On Saturday I taught at Trinity Lutheran focusing on two texts. First, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NAS)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
So we comfort others with the same comfort which we have received from God. This opens our eyes to ministry that we may have overlooked. We examined the implications of such a changed perspective, relative to reaching out to those not in our midst. Good discussion.
Second, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:2 (NAS):
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
He notes four-generation reproduction, whether pastors specifically or disciples in a more general way. That is, our life as Christians is not “me alone,” even though our environment may scream that it is. Thus, as we grow through receiving the Word and Sacrament, we see who God has placed in our lives so that we can disciple them. In fact, it means discipling in such a way that the person will after some time (1-2 years) begin discipling someone else.
On Sunday I preached on 1 Peter 2:2-10. What is our identity in Christ? As receivers of God’s mercy, we then also are called “new born children” who crave milk (the Word) so that we grow. We also are living stones “being built together.” I noted that stones never get to choose where they belong in the building, but when placed by the master mason, the stone is fitted exactly where needed. And finally we proclaim what God has done and is doing, “the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
In the coffee and donuts (well, bagels!) time afterward, there was even an opportunity for me to put into practice what I had taught on Saturday. God’s timing is always surprising and amazing.
The Region convention was small in attendance, but good fellowship. Pastor Frank Hays, our Presiding Pastor, preached a solid and memorable sermon on “giants and grasshoppers,” based on Numbers 13. We had the privilege of hearing Rev.Dr. David Benke (President, Atlantic District, LCMS), Rev. Dr. Johnson Rethinasamy (ethnic ministries, LI, LCMS), and Chaplain Stephen Unger (Stonybrook, LI and NYC Police and FBI Chaplain). Thanks to everyone for their presence, speaking, and encouragement.