I can remember many things from the summer 25 years ago. Before June 23rd, which was the date of Penny and my marriage, I was attending classes at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. the class that I was taking was a short-term class on the New Testament book of Galatians. Dr. Jonathon Grothe was the professor for the class. A short-term class was 9 days in length, meeting morning and afternoon. It was a challenging time. During those few short days, we were to learn and grow in our understanding of this writing of Paul to the churches in Galatia. One of the most challenges things that took place in those days was that we were to translate the six chapters of Galatians from the Koine Greek to English. We had to do a chapter a day, so that we could make it through the class, talk about the book and its background, the theological implications of the book and what it means for us today. We also were to write a sermon with a text from Galatians as the basis for the sermon. I look back on that class and have two thoughts.
One, it was quite the challenge. I think about it and realize that the Seminary was pulling out all the stops to make sure that the men that were studying for the ministry would be well prepared for service in the church. How in the world did I actually translate that book? I look at it, and it amazes me. I would love to say that my Greek is as good today as it was in the summer of '84, but it isn't. I am ashamed to say that while I can still do the translating today, I am by no way as fluent as I was back then.
Second, I know that it is of utmost importance for the LC-MS to continue to prepare men for the ministry in the same way. the temptation is to cut back on the requirements for the men studying for the ministry, but that would be a mistake. I know that it is a lot to expect from the men at the Seminary. It will challenge them to greatest degree. But that is important because those same men will one day be in the pulpits and offices of our churches. We need to prepare them in every way possible. They do need to be fluent in the originals. They also need to be taken in depth in the books of the Bible. I have learned that as a pastor, I need to know those books and what they mean for us today.
Wow. I think about what it took to prepare me for the ministry and I am overwhelmed. There were a lot of people working hard to make it possible for the people St. Paul's, Troy to know that the man that is in their pulpit is qualified to be there - the men of Concordia Seminary saw to that.
The summer of 1984 was a part of my preparation. Thanks to Dr. Grothe, I am able to teach and preach on the book of Galatians.