We Lutherans tend to do things decently and in good order. Always have. Always will. Maybe it’s part of our original German heritage. Maybe it’s because much of our history has been on the move and moving. When things are chaotic in other areas of life, it’s nice to have things right where they ought to be when it comes to church.
So a week after I announced my decision to accept a Call to a congregation in Florida, the church I served for the past 15 years called a meeting. They asked me to walk them through my decision process, and why it was that I accepted the Call.
I was nervous about it. But in the end it was a really positive experience both for me and for the congregation. It allowed the members of the church the opportunity to see what goes into such a process. It helped me to articulate why I felt so compelled to follow the Lord’s Call to another place.
I told them that I made lists centered around three categories:
Most of the “personal” items I kept between my family and me. But I shared a few. I did, however, want people to see how “professional” and “spiritual” items really made my decision quite clear. Once I wrote them down and said them out loud, it became more and more evident where the decision would go.
Although the people of my current congregation may still not “like” the decision I made, many told me they better understand how I could come to such a decision. It was, in a sense, a “watershed” moment for me and for the people of the congregation. There were tears (including my own), and there was love and respect that was shared.
But that wasn’t the end of things being done “decently and in good order.” Toward the end of the meeting, the following (decent and orderly) resolution was presented to the congregation:
Whereas the members of Mount Calvary have been blessed by the faithful service of Pastor Thomas Eggebrecht for over 15 years, and
Whereas the congregation recognizes that the health of the whole body of Christ is enriched through Pastor Eggebrecht’s Call to Ascension Lutheran, and
Whereas Mount Calvary’s body of believers seeks to provide Pastor Eggebrecht with an affirmation of our love and respect;
Be it so moved that Mount Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church grant to Pastor Thomas Eggebrecht a peaceful release from his divine Call as pastor of this congregation, and
Be it further moved that this congregation wishes Pastor Eggebrecht all God’s blessings in his new Call as pastor of Ascension Lutheran in Casselberry, Florida.
As formal as that all sounds, it made me feel incredibly loved. You might have to be a Lutheran to feel love from a formal statement like that. And since I have proudly worn the name “Lutheran” my whole life, the people of Mount Calvary spoke a language of love that I understood. Decently and in good order. That’s the way I like it.
When and how have you had “love” spoken to you in an unusual way?