On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis held the call service for the men who were receiving their 1st call into the pastoral ministry. This is such a wonderful event for the LC-MS, to have these men entering the pastoral ministry. It is a time of great celebration. There is often much pomp and circumstance that goes with such a service. I am sure that when Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN held their call service there was also much pomp and circumstance. There is good reason for such services to pull out all the stops. This is truly a celebration of the gift that the Lord is giving in the men who will serve as pastors in the church.
There has been discussion following the service at St. Louis about the banner poles that were used in the service. There were some that poked fun at it in good Christian fellowship. Others seemed to use that as a lightning rod to show that there is trouble at the St. Louis Seminary. It seems that they are saying, "Since I do not like the banner poles and think that they are frivolous and do not add anything to the service but distract from the solemness of the service, that means that this is a sign of deeper problems at the Seminary."
As I listened to this discussion, I thought of David and Michal. David is filled with godly joy at the wonder of the Ark of the Covenant being brought into Jerusalem. He danced before the Ark and Michal the daughter of Saul despised King David for this action. (1 Chronicles 15:29) Her feelings for David's actions were colored by her personal feelings and desires and so she despised the King. I think that personal feelings and desires are causing some to find fault and despise the Seminary for the use of the banner poles.
As an editorial thought, and I have no real basis for fact on this, I think the issue is deeper than just the use of banner poles in the service or the statements that it shows a deeper issue at St. Louis. I think that it goes to the very heart of our Synod as it goes to convention this summer. Dr. Dale Meyer has been nominated by a large number of congregations to be on the ballot for the presidency of the LC-MS. For those who would like a more middle of the road Lutheranism, this is a good thing. For those who would like to continue going deeper into the historical/liturgical Lutheranism, this is a challenge to the current administration and direction of the LC-MS. So in order to cause folks to think that Dr. Meyer would not be a worthy president of the LC-MS, it is necessary to call into question the practices that take at the Seminary of which he is currently president.
I am not a fan of the high church liturgical practice in our Synod. I do not find it the style of worship that I desire. Many times, I feel that we are leaning more towards becoming like the Roman church or the Orthodox church. I know the answer will be that it is just trying to return to the form of historic Lutheranism of Luther's day. That is fine and good but that is not the Lutheranism as it has been here in America. I do not wish to return to the 16th century in the same way I do not wish to return to the 19th century. I feel that Dr. Meyer has done a very fine job in making all forms of worship available at St. Louis, showing that there is neither right nor wrong as long as it continue to be Lutheran. It can be high church or low church, it can be chanted and incensed or it can be contemporary in form (meaning the use of a variety of instruments and songs). He has done his best to help see that these worship wars are something that we should not be fighting with each other.
So as I reflect on the discussion on the banner poles, I just shake my head. I realize that it is just a symptom of a much deeper problem in our Synod, that really doesn't have to do with banner poles at the Call Day service. It has to do with who is going to be the head of the church for the next 4 years and what direction our church will be going these next 4 years.
Personally, I would rather see Dr. Meyer leading the LC-MS than Dr. Harrison. I would feel much more comfortable with his leadership. I have become very uncomfortable with the direction of our Synod over the past 8 years.
There is much more that can be said, much of which is personal opinion and covered under freedom of expression. I pray that our church, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can right itself and continue to be the bearer of the Gospel at this time. I pray that the Lord will raise up leaders who will guide in the direction He wishes the LC-MS to go at this time.
As far as the discussion on the use of the banner poles, Lord forgive us for our petty bickering and our unhealthy attacks that have happened. Lord, have mercy.