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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Who Isn't Ashamed of the Gospel?

The sad media frenzy and political maneuvering last week proved once again that we are deeply ashamed of the Gospel. I really don't know why the New York Times and their ilk are always so shocked to discover that we actually believe in this stuff, that we think Jesus Christ is God and is the only God, and the only way to heaven, etc. Maybe they are shocked because every time they ask us about it we get all embarrassed and start apologizing.

The Gospel is highly offensive. It is downright embarrassing and quite painful to admit that you fear that some of your neighbors are damned. One of the most difficult lessons for us to learn is that there is a time to be silent and respectful. The funeral of a Mormon or Jewish neighbor, for example, is not the time to explain the Gospel. It is the time to honor the person who lived and to pray silently for an opportunity to witness to his loved ones before they follow him.

In any case, former President Kieschnick admits his own embarrassment of the Gospel as he announces that he refuses President Harrison's apology ("Sadly and regrettably, nothing anyone can say will satisfactorily mitigate those emotions") and that he is seeking nominations for the presidency of the LC-MS:

"Overwhelmed! Embarrassed! Prayerful! People are asking …

Overwhelmed! The response to last week’s Perspectives article Praying in Public was overwhelming! It’s been a long time since I’ve received as many emails, Facebook and Twitter messages as have come since last Thursday. This early edition of Perspectives seems timely.

Of the hundreds of replies, only six were negatively critical. I’m well aware that there are many folks who do not take the time to write and I’m quite sure they also have strong feelings, on both sides of the question.
To those who expressed appreciation, thank you for your kind affirmation. To those who expressed disappointment, thank you for caring enough about our church body to write.

Embarrassed! The same day last week’s Perspectives article was released, a number of public news media carried a story titled Newtown pastor reprimanded over prayer vigil. The story was that the LCMS pastor who had participated in the interfaith vigil after the Sandy Hook tragedy had been asked by the president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to apologize for participating.

Many LCMS members, including most of the 800 attendees at the Best Practices Conference in Phoenix last week, have expressed to me their anger and embarrassment at this whole fiasco. Sadly and regrettably, nothing anyone can say will satisfactorily mitigate those emotions.

Congregations are endeavoring to proclaim to people in their community and beyond the forgiving love of God in Christ our Lord. The news that a pastor of our church body is asked to apologize for doing something pastoral, especially at a time of great need and horrendous grief in the local community, is greatly upsetting to people, inside and outside the church.

Prayerful! We live in a world full of sin and satanic influence. The devil would love nothing more than to see the Christian faith, the Christian church and Christian people appear to be unthinking, unfeeling and insensitive to the very real needs of very real people.
My prayer:
     ·  I pray that God would keep the devil far away from our church body.
     ·  I pray that what has been reported about this matter in the media these past few days will not cause eternally damaging offense to any child of God.
     ·  I pray for the national, district and congregational leaders of the LCMS directly involved.
     ·  And mostly I continue to pray for the families in Newtown who will always grieve the loss of their little loved ones.

People are asking … Since last week, I’ve been hugely humbled by folks I know and folks I’ve never met who are asking if I would consider the possibility of serving again as LCMS president. While I’ve heard those questions from time to time the past two and a half years, their frequency has increased exponentially in the last few days. I believe they deserve an answer.

My response now is the same as it has always been. In nineteen years of district and national leadership, I have never coveted an office and have never sought to be elected. My firm conviction is that in any process involving a calling from the Lord, the office should seek the man and not the man the office.

In our system, a candidate does not simply throw his hat in the ring. Congregations have the opportunity to nominate leaders they believe would serve faithfully and fruitfully. The three pastors who receive the largest number of nominations, and agree to serve if elected, will be on the ballot for LCMS president. The deadline for nominations is February 20, which means that most congregations choosing to participate in the process have probably already done so.

During the nine previous years I served as LCMS president, I felt truly called to that office. Confirmation of the hand of God at work through the nomination process almost concluded would be the only way I would consider the possibility of returning. And that’s my response to those who are asking.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

Dr. Gerald B. (Jerry) Kieschnick
President Emeritus, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
Presidential Ambassador for Mission Advancement, Concordia University Texas"
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