A new academic year has arrived at the Seminary. It was launched with the fanfare of Opening Service with installations of new faculty and staff, a presidential inauguration and dinner, and the Opening Weekend Hymn Festival. A lot of hoopla! But some wonderful hoopla after all of the isolation and cancellations of the last two years. And what better way to enter the new school year than invoking our gracious God, hearing His Word, petitioning His aid, singing His praises and having a party?
Then, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, we were looking forward to enjoying a Jambalaya Fest dinner for the whole Seminary community, a much-loved event hosted by the generous and encouraging people of The Village Church Lutheran in Lacombe, La., and Christ Lutheran in Orland Park, Ill. That was the plan, anyway. Then Hurricane Ida came charging up against the Louisiana coast, leaving great destruction, flooding and power outages across the Gulf Coast parishes of the state. Needless to say, Jambalaya Fest was canceled — at least for now.
The level of support and encouragement that the Seminary receives from the broader church for our work here is always humbling. It is such an outpouring of love, financial support and prayers from all corners of our church.
And then there are special acts of service and generosity such as this Jambalaya Fest. It will be missed this year. It always makes an impression on students, faculty and staff alike because it is such an over-the-top expression of willing service and kindness. Pastor Paul Ernewein and people from The Village Church Lutheran and other congregations travel all the way to St. Louis, cook enormous amounts of delicious Cajun food, and just invite us to sit down and enjoy their kindness. Just to show that they love us and appreciate us. They’ve been doing this for years.
But not this year. This year, in God’s inexplicable wisdom, there has been a terrible storm. The interruption of our delightful meal and fellowship for an evening was a small casualty, compared to the losses across Louisiana. Mercifully, deaths have been few from this storm, but the damage to homes, churches, schools, hospitals, roads and so forth, will take months and years to restore.
St. Paul encourages us: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. … As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:2, 10 ESV).
After all of the kindness that the good people of The Village Church Lutheran have shown to our Seminary, we will certainly be remembering them in prayer, in generosity and in acts of service.
Beloved alumni, I call on you and your congregations to likewise pray for those impacted by Ida and to consider donating money, or even your personal volunteer service. A great way to do this is to donate to the LCMS Disaster Response. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in Louisiana and elsewhere visit the LCMS Lutheran Early Response Teams (LERT) website.
Our Seminary’s motto is “Light from Above.” This motto rejoices that the light of Christ’s love and salvation, and the light of His unbreakable Word, are central to our preparation of pastors and other church workers here at Concordia Seminary. But this motto also speaks to the privilege we have of shining the light of Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. A light they will find nowhere else. The light of the love of the Son of God, transforming the hearts and lives of those who bear His name, and beckoning others to know Him and find life in Him.
“You are the light of the world,” Jesus said. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14a, 16 ESV).
The day is soon coming, dear friends, when Jesus will come again. There will be no more COVID-19. No more hurricanes. There will be love, feast, brotherhood and eternal praise to God. It does not say so explicitly in the Bible, but there will probably be some big pots of gumbo. And saints from The Village Church Lutheran will probably be standing beside them, smiling at you warmly and dishing you up a big helping. Let us all learn from their love of serving others!
Every blessing in Christ,
Dr. Thomas J. Egger