I was privileged, once again, to feed the attendees at the St. Michael Conference. There is a bit of effort involved, but I enjoy feeding people, and the blessings far outweigh the work. The worship services were wonderful. The full-throated singing of "Praise My Soul the King of Heaven" by mostly male voices led on the organ by the Rev. Dr. Daniel Reuning was amazing. Kantor Reuning has the gift of playing in a way that makes the singing better and I am fortunate to be blessed by it every Sunday.
It was unusally great to hear my own pastor preach, because he has been on sabatical for two months, and will not be back until All Saints.. One of the things that I heard the Rev. Dr. Karl Fabrizius say in his presentation--I got to hear snippets of a couple--was that people learn the vocabulary, phrasing, etc., of their pastor. We learn what to expect. Listening to pastors we are accustomed to is easier for us, and it makes it harder for new pastors, or those filling in. This is so true. We, as listeners, owe it to those who are preaching to really listen and to realize that some effort may be required on our part when we are listening to someone new to us preach.
I always feel like I am getting a little bit of a privileged peek into the world of pastors when I help out at these events. I have come to appreciate more and more over the past couple of years the vast array of struggles that faithful pastors can be facing. It makes me so sad when I see and hear of faithful pastors who are being mistreated in ways small and large. And as I get to meet more and more of these men, I feel privileged to pray for them as individuals instead of just as an amorphous cloud of pastors.
We, as laypeople, need to encourage our pastors. We need to tell them when we get some new insight from a sermon. We need to pay them a living wage, and preferably more. We need to recognize that they have a huge responsibility--the care and feeding of souls--and support them in that. We need to encourage our pastors to take advantage of opportunities to be in the company of other faithful pastors. If there is a financial impediment to this happening, maybe we could forgo a night out and allow our pastor this oasis. We should also support our pastors by studying and learning, reading our Bibles, knowing our Confessions, and being Lutheran. And, it should go without saying, we should pray for them and their families.
By: Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1874
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To his feet your tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing;
Praise the everlasting King.
Praise Him for His grace and favor
To His people in distress;
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Glorious in His faithfulness.
Father like He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows;
In His hand He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Widely yet His mercy flows.
Angels, help us to adore Him;
You behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
All who dwell in time and space.
Praise with us the God of grace.