Greetings in the name of Jesus, whose love for you is enduring and beautiful!
Some of you will be coming to campus for our annual Alumni Reunion later this month. We look forward to seeing you! Whenever you make it back to the Seminary campus, I know that you are struck anew with the beauty of this place. I live and work here every day, and the beauty of Concordia Seminary is still striking to me.
Isaiah reminds us of the beauty of those who proclaim the Gospel: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Is. 52:7 ESV). Our Theological Symposium this year reflected deeply on the theme of beauty, Christ, theology and the church.
Beauty also is an important emphasis in our work of forming pastors and deaconesses here at the Seminary. This was the closing theme of my inaugural address at the beginning of this school year. Allow me to share an excerpt from that speech:
“What would the Concordia Seminary campus be like without the lawns, flowers, trees, fountains, archways, tower, stained glass and so forth? As we carry out our work, as we build on the sure foundation of God’s Word, as we seek to form and shape the person of our students, let us also attend to instilling in them the beauty of Christ. In ordination vows, pastors promise, with God’s help, to “adorn” the Gospel and the Office of the Holy Ministry with their lives. The person of our students, their disposition, their qualities, their way of life, will be seen by those inside the church and by those outside the church. Let us instill in them, with God’s grace and help, that which is beautiful. The beauty of love, the beauty of self-sacrifice, of humility, of contentment, of generosity, of brotherly unity, of joy in Christ and of hope.
“The world is filled with ugliness. More and more, prominent voices in the culture around us succeed in branding Christianity as a religion of exclusion, self-righteousness and hate. As something ugly. It should not surprise us. In Isaiah’s days, he addressed “those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is. 5:20 ESV). And Jesus forewarned, “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20 ESV).
“But Jesus is beautiful. And if we are to be despised, and if our students are to bear reproach for Christ’s sake, let us do so while exhibiting lives that are beautiful. Not outward beauty of hair or jewelry or clothing. But a Spirit-worked beauty of person, of heart, of life. Peter’s exhortation to wives can apply to all Christians: “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4 ESV).
“As we build here at this Seminary, let us care about such beauty. For our life together inside the church has not always been beautiful, and it won’t always be. But when it is, it is a priceless gift to the whole world.”
Dear friends and alumni of Concordia Seminary, may our gracious Lord open your eyes today to His gifts of beauty around you, and especially to the beauty of Christ’s deep and enduring love for you. May He give you opportunities to bring that beautiful Gospel message into many lives. And may He strengthen and shape you by His grace to be a beautiful ambassador of love and hope in Christ.
Every blessing in Christ,
Dr. Thomas J. Egger