When I ask alumni what the most formative or memorable thing was from their time at Seminary, probably 90% of the answers focus on occasions of connection with others: corporate worship in the chapel, time spent in a professor’s home, conversation with fellow students in the cafeteria and so forth. If I were to ask you, your response might be something similar. This is great. We seek to form pastors, deaconesses and missionaries who will share the Gospel with others and share their lives with others.
How remarkable that the Creator and Lord of all took on human flesh to be our Immanuel, God with us! Like a mother hen gathers her chicks, Jesus desires to gather us together as His people in His gracious presence. He said to His disciples at the Last Supper, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you” (Luke 22:15 ESV). And He “earnestly desires” to meet with us as well at His table, feeding us with His very body and His blood, welcoming us, forgiving us, upholding us. He has promised to be with us to the end of the age. And we rejoice that in the life to come, He will be in the midst of His people forever.
In the New Testament epistles, we hear many expressions from the apostle Paul and others regarding their earnest desire to be with the believers in the church, to come to them, to share the Gospel with them, to share their lives with them. The writer to the Hebrews emphasizes how important this is: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24–25 ESV).
Concordia Seminary’s theme for this academic year is “Sharing the Gospel—Sharing our Lives,” taken from a phrase in 1 Thess. 2:8. The study that takes place during Seminary is a critical foundation for a life of service to the church. But also critical is the time that we spend with and for one another, and with our Lord. In daily chapel, we confess the faith with and for one another, hear the Gospel together, pray together, kneel at our Lord’s altar together. In our classrooms, our students learn not only from the professors but also with and from one another. Meals together. Coffee together. Intramural sports. Weekend outings. Meeting our neighbors. Caring for and helping one another. Sharing the Gospel. Sharing our lives.
I pray regularly for our students and for you, our graduates. May the Lord continue to uphold you in your labors and bless and protect your family and loved ones. May He give you joy in sharing the Gospel and sharing your life with others, even as He Himself rejoices to share His promises and His life with you.
In Christ’s love,
Dr. Thomas J. Egger