By Graham Glover –
Last week was extraordinary. It was as vocationally, spiritually, and personally fulfilling as any week in recent memory.
Last week I got to be a pastor.
For the record, I’ve been a pastor since 30 May 2004. I’ve never stopped being a pastor, from my time in the parish to my time in the Army. My vocation has been the same since I was ordained over 12 years ago. But last week was different.
Last week I presided at the font, baptizing the newborn child of one of my Lieutenants.
Last week I taught the adult bible study at the parish where my family and I attend while we are stationed in Hawaii.
Last week I preached and presided at the altar of our Lord at this same congregation.
When our pastor returned from vacation, I even got to co-teach a mid-week class with him on ‘Faith and Politics’.
Last week was marvelous, because last week I got to be a pastor. Last week I lived and breathed what I was ordained to do: preach God’s Holy Word and administer His Holy Sacraments.
It’s not that Word and Sacrament ministry is absent in my duties as an Army Chaplain. They’re there, even if not always obvious or done less frequently than I desire. They are the very foundation of the office I hold and the call I have from the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces. But I’d be lying if I said my typical week is as immersed in proclamation and administration as it was last week.
In my Battalion of over 500 Soldiers, less than 20 self-identify as Lutheran. The number of Missouri Synod Lutherans are in the single digits. So it’s no wonder that I don’t spend a lot of time at the font or the altar. The Word is proclaimed in frequent field services, regular counseling, and I pray, in the daily interactions I have with my Soldiers. There is no LCMS chapel on Post. The “best” thing going is a Liturgical Chapel, which has 2 LCMS chaplains, 1 ELCA (female) chaplain, 1 Charismatic Episcopalian, and 2 Anglicans. When the other LCMS chaplain and I lead worship, it is a Service of the Word. Obviously, we do not commune with those chaplains or families of whom we are not in fellowship with. So the opportunity to preside is infrequent and oftentimes, tricky.
Last week though – last week was different. Last week there was nothing tricky, nothing abnormal. Last week I simply did the things that are at the very heart of the Office of the Holy Ministry, and I did them with and for likeminded believers.
Last week I got to be a pastor. What a wonderful week it was and a hearty reminder of who I am and the vocation our Lord and His church has called me to.