As the demands of ministry efforts increase this Advent and Christmas season, may the Savior’s coming bless and encourage you in your own walk with God.
I have been musing for some time about how hard it is for us to get a message heard in our time of communication overload. After speaking last week to several Synod groups, I concluded our Seminary communications aren’t always getting through. For example, one leader asked if we had thought about dealing with the cost of Seminary tuition for students! Now I understand that part of the problem is that we’re all swamped with information, and we cope by ignoring some things that come our way. I do that, too. The trouble is that without accurate information, people say and promote their own version of what they think is true. I’m sure you’ve communicated important things to your congregation over and over again but some don’t hear. Frustrating.
So, back to Advent and Christmas. Now we’re talking about eternally important communication. The Latin word terere means to rub or wear down, and gives us the word “trite,” something worn down. Faithful people have heard the precious words of Advent and Christmas so many times that they can become trite and worn down. We are challenged to keep our diction and imagery fresh and relevant so that hearers think, “Ah, an old truth in a way I hadn’t thought of!” But if we formulate Advent and Christmas themes only with traditional thoughts and words, the precious message of Immanuel may be dismissed – I’ve heard that before – and people go on living their own version of what they think is true. And in spiritually shallow America, that should be our pastoral worry.
Perhaps some of our resources online can help your Gospel preparation. I turn to them. I also gain from reading popular Christian writers, who often give an insight or turn of phrase that delights me and can be shared in my sermons and teaching. Of course, we always read through Lutheran eyes, but we are trained, after all, to be discerning. So my wish for you in the busyness of the coming weeks is that the Spirit of God and our Lord Jesus will give speed to your words, and that they will get through to the heads and hearts of those whom you lovingly serve and for whom our Savior came, comes and will come again. And whenever you can share an accurate word about your alma mater, that’s appreciated, too!
Thankful for you and your ministry,
Dr. Dale A. Meyer, President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis