The Savior of the nations has come! God’s promise — that through Abraham’s seed, all of the families of the earth would be blessed — has been fulfilled! Likewise His promise through Isaiah: “The LORD will rise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Is. 60:2–3 ESV).
Christ is born, for you, for all! And still today His brilliant glory and righteousness are shining through His church, through His people, through His Word and through His Sacraments! Still today, He is calling people “from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages” to find peace with God and eternal life in His name.
What a joy it is to celebrate the Epiphany of the world’s only Savior! And what a joy to live in a time and in a land when we can meet, and share the Gospel, with people from so many different families of the earth!
This is one of the particular joys of life at Concordia Seminary! As we serve a church body founded by German immigrants, our student body increasingly comes from “all the families of the earth” — among our American pastoral and deaconess students and, of course, among our international graduate students. Our most recent Seminary Pictorial Directory displays this diversity, with family names such as Ayana, Berg, Contreras, Dass, Eyoumoh, Fung, González, Heitshusen, Iannucelli, Jones, Kumpeeroskul, Liu, Mikits, Novacek, Oesch, Pronsati, Qui, Riley, Senbetu, Thao, Uddo, Vanderhyde, Wagenknecht, Yoseph and Zandstra. (For some reason, we have been having trouble recruiting students with last names beginning with “X,” but we’re working on it!)
In a society where words such as “race” and “immigration” have become so contentious, we who bear Christ’s name have the wonderful calling to love all, welcome all, defend all, serve all and share the Good News of the Savior with all!
Not only do all of the families of the earth share a common lineage, ultimately, having descended from our first parents in Eden, but we also share the weight of this world’s brokenness. Struggle, grief, worry, guilt, loneliness, a search for purpose amidst the frustrations and vanities of life. This is our common lot. We all need love, care and support from others. We all need the redemption, peace and purpose that Jesus alone can give.
All of us Gentiles have been grafted into Christ’s family tree as “unnatural branches,” yet we have been so warmly welcomed by our Father’s embrace that we should be very much at home in the household of God, the body of Christ, the Una Sancta, the church from all peoples and nations. By grace, we belong here. By grace, all belong here. “Although we oft have wandered, it is our Father’s home!” And as those who were ourselves grafted in by God’s far-reaching mercy in Christ, what a joy it is to serve alongside others, and to reach out to others, from so many other family and ethnic backgrounds.
I am proud of Concordia Seminary’s longstanding work in preparing church workers to make disciples of all nations. I thank God for you, our alumni, for your work in bringing the Father’s welcome, in Christ Jesus, to people in your congregations and in your communities from all different “families of the earth.” Can we do better? Of course. Should we do better? Yes, let’s!
I would love to hear about ways (big or small) in which you and the congregations you serve are reaching out to people in your community of diverse ethnic and language backgrounds. If you have five minutes to spare, shoot me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
May this Epiphany season bring you joy in Christ, and joy in shining His light to others!
See, nations gather yonder
From sin to be set free.
The world has heard Your story;
Her sons come to Your glory;
Her daughters haste Your light to see.
(LSB 396, Arise and Shine in Splendor, v. 4)
Every blessing in Christ,
Dr. Thomas J. Egger