By Ross Engel –
This is an exciting week in the lives of the future pastors of the LCMS. Both of our synod’s seminaries hosted their annual call and vicarage placement services. These are anxious moments as fourth-year seminarians patiently wait through an evening Vespers service to find out where they will serve for their first Divine Call. Second-year students get to find out where they will be placed for their one year of vicarage (like a pastoral internship). The running joke has always been that calls and vicarage assignments are determined by the throw of a dart at a map of the USA, but I’ve been told that there is much more to the process.
I recall nervously sitting in the pew with my classmates and brothers. The chapel was bursting at the seams with family, friends, professors and a variety of synodical dignitaries. I’m sure that eleven years ago I was holding my breath as I heard my name called, followed by the name of the congregation and town that I would be serving. It’s probably a bit similar to the football draft, except none of the football players have the potential of winding up in Middle-of-Nowhere, USA.
Call day always reminds me that the Lord of the Church continues to care for His people by training and sending under-shepherds to care for His flock. While not every congregation or pastor is perfect, this is how our Lord provides His precious gifts of Law and Gospel and Word and Sacrament for His people.
The Divine Call is always an amazing thing to consider. God raises up men to preach and to teach. These men are equipped for the ministry, and through the means of the congregation and a whole lot of praying and contemplation, pastors are sent by God to shepherd His flock in that place.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” – Romans 10:14-15
I truly love the fact that God sends preachers to His Church. God chooses to deliver His life-giving gifts of forgiveness, salvation, the Gospel, and new life in Christ in such a beautiful way! Pastors don’t just decide to go somewhere; God sends them to His church. A congregation may be the one who issues the call to serve them, but it is God who sends the preacher to them. It is always God who provides pastors to serve His Church and care for the precious souls gathered there. This distinction is always important for pastors to remember; the Lord of the church gives pastors their marching orders. Pastors, go where He leads, and do what the Lord has commanded!
This year, The Jagged Word is happy to follow the call day happenings for three men who have been given the distinction of being our Bell Ringers in the past few years.
On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, our most recent Bell Ringer, Gabriel Martin from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN., was issued his first Call to serve the saints of Zion Lutheran Church in Tawas City, Michigan. We pray God’s richest blessings as he begins his ministry there. As our most recent Bell Ringer, Gabe will also soon be receiving the Bell Ringer funds so that he can purchase some books and enjoy some times of celebration and fellowship with his fellow seminary brothers. Thank you for your generous support for our Bell Ringer Gabe!
On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, our previous Bell Ringer from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO., Adam Rodriguez, received his vicarage assignment. This summer he will begin serving the fine people of St. Lorenz Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth, Michigan as their vicar for the next year. We pray that his time of vicarage will be a benefit to his ministry formation!
Also on Wednesday, our previous St. Louis Bell Ringer Rob Bailey received his first Divine Call to serve the people of God who have been gathered at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas. As Rob transitions from the classroom to the parish, we know that he will be a blessing to the flock entrusted to his care, and he will be a faithful under-shepherd to them all.
Please pray for these men and for all those who have been placed and called to serve the Lord’s Church. The fact that God continues to send men to proclaim His Word and deliver His gifts to His people is a great joy for the people of God. Our Lord promises never to leave us nor forsake us, and He makes certain that His people are fed and nourished with His life-giving gifts until He is revealed at the end of the age.