Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Beautiful Picture of World Lutheranism

On the left is the Rev. Rich Heinz, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Chicago, and on the right is the Most Rev. Walter Obare, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK). The picture is published on Pastor Heinz's facebook page.

Our church bodies are in full altar and pulpit fellowship. Bp. Obare is a hero of world Lutheranism and an inspiration for all Christians around the globe who believe in God's Word - even in the face of rank unbelief and outright persecution.

Lutherans are white, black, brown, yellow, and everything in between. Lutherans speak Germanic languages, Romance languages, Oriental languages, African languages, Indian languages, and nearly every dialect known to man. Lutherans are governed episcopally by bishops in apostolic succession, as well as in more congregational forms of polity. Our church buildings are Gothic cathedrals with organs and bells and incense and beautifully chanted liturgies located in the world's great cities, and our church buildings are mud huts in the bush with simple tables and chairs and liturgies sung with the aid of guitars. Among the world's Lutherans, diversity is not just some silly politically-correct bromide. We are truly as diverse in tribe and tongue as the heavenly choir in Rev 5:9.

And yet, in matters of doctrine, we biblical and confessional Lutherans rally around the divinely inspired Scriptures and their correct exposition in the Book of Concord. We flock to the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, proclaimed in preaching and partaken of in the Church's worship life of liturgy, prayer, and hymnody. We find unity at the baptismal font and in the holy words of Absolution. Though there is a healthy diversity of members in the body, we serve the head, who is Christ. And it is His blood that gives us life, and His body in us that makes us one body in Him.

Among the world's confessional Lutherans there is a glorious Augustinian melding of diversity in non-essentials with unity in the essentials of confessed doctrine and lived-out practice.

This picture showing the brotherly handshake and the joyful smiles of these devoted servants of the Lord from opposite hemispheres of the globe says it all. Both pastors are vested in the red of the martyrs' blood and of the Holy Spirit's fire, both bearing the stole of the yoke of the Holy Office established by the Lord Jesus Himself, both wearing the cross upon their chests and both bearing the cross in their ministries.

What a glorious picture of the Church Militant and an inspiring icon of Christian hope as we move toward the Church Triumphant in the hope of the resurrection and the new creation!


Rev. Richard A. Heinz said...

Indeed it was a thrilling day! A 2 1/2 hour Mass that sped by! And a great homily by my hero, Archbishop Obare!

I am honored to know him, and pray for this great servant of the Lord!

The young fogey said...

The bishop's pectoral cross looks familiar: it's a Russian priest's cross.

Yes, a good picture capturing the Holy Spirit at work in and much that is good about high-church orthodox Lutheranism. Go with God!