This will be my final newsletter article. Next month you will be greeted by your new pastor, Pastor Martin Luchterhand. The good thing is that there will be no interruption of ministry here at Crown of Life. The same truth of the gospel will be preached and taught in the future as it has in the past. Souls will still be fed and nourished with the same forgiveness that Jesus purchased and won for every sinner by His death and resurrection.
Do we always cherish what that means? Do we consider as often as we should how blessed we really are to be the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior? That is a blessing we never want to take for granted. Can you imagine what it would be like to be without Jesus, without faith, without any hope of a better life to come?
That is also why it is so important that we faithfully continue to use the Word and sacraments that the Lord provides for us through His called servants. It is through these means the Holy Spirit continues to do His work in us of preserving and strengthening our faith so that we will always be ready for the time He comes and calls us out of this life.
The last words of the Bible are these: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21). It is Jesus Himself speaking these words through the pen of the apostle John. The word “Yes” is actually the word “Amen”. It is a word that means “truth”. Another way of putting it would be “It is true” or “You can count on it”. Yes, truly Jesus is coming soon. That “soon” can be anytime for any one of us or any time for the entire world. It’s a tremendous promise for the believer and a warning for the unbeliever. That is why the church of believers responds to the Savior’s announcement with the words “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”. Truly, we want You to come, Jesus – the sooner, the better. That is when we will finally be delivered from all evil and live forever in glory.
And then John concludes the Bible with the blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” That is also my departing prayer and blessing for everyone who reads these words. May the grace (or undeserved love) of our Savior continue to be with you always. As He gave His life to save you, may you continue to trust in Him alone for your salvation. May you continue to faithfully serve Him with your life. Then we all will be reunited again permanently in that glorious home that our Savior has prepared for us. “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
I also want to add my sincere thanks to:
All who have been faithful these past four years in their attendance at church, the Lord’s Supper, and Bible classes. That is the greatest joy for any pastor’s ministry;
Pastor William Balza
We may not think it, but our synod convention has a lot to do with Crown of Life and our mission as a congregation. Every odd year the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) holds a convention at one of our worker-training schools. There are about 400 or so delegates who attend the convention, representing each of our twelve districts. Representation includes pastors, teachers and lay delegates, all of whom are elected on a rotating basis. One of the delegates at the convention this year will be our member, Brian Kopp, who will be serving as the lay delegate from our circuit.
This year our synod’s biennial convention will be held July 25-29 at Luther Prep School in Watertown, Wisconsin. The purpose of the convention is to review the work that has been done during the past two years, take a good look at the resources that are available for the work that needs to be done in the coming two years, and then approve a budget that will respond to the opportunities the Lord has placed before the convention.
Your pastor was privileged to serve as one of the pastor delegates at the synod convention in 2009 at Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Michigan. That was actually the third convention I have been privileged to attend as a delegate. The other two were in 1979 and 1993, both of which included the election of two of our last three synod presidents (Pastor Carl Mischke and Pastor Karl Gurgel). Most pastors are fortunate if they are elected to serve at two synod conventions (about once every 20 years or so).
While our synod has held conventions since its inception in 1850, the first “synod convention” was actually held many years before in the year 50 or 51 A.D. The convention was held at the “mother church” in Jerusalem. You can read all about the convention in Acts 15. Delegates were mostly from two congregations at Antioch and Jerusalem. They include the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul among others. The main issue which came before the convention was deciding whether Gentile believers needed to be circumcised or not in order to be saved. After much discussion and debate the decision that was reached was that they did not need to be circumcised but that they should “abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” (v. 20) so as not to offend the Jewish believers among them with some of their former heathen practices.
That decision was important. It upheld the Scripture teaching that we are saved alone by the grace of God through faith in Jesus as our Savior. Works of the flesh (like circumcision) do not save and do not even help along in saving us. Delegates to that convention set the tone for every synod convention in the future for our own synod. All the decisions which are made at our synod conventions are to be in keeping with the true Word and teaching of the Bible. But, like in the case of that first convention, when we stay true to the Scriptures, then we also have a message that will be worth sharing with the world. And that, too, is the purpose of every synod convention – to seek ways that we can reach out with the gospel message of Jesus to all people.
The main work of our synod is 1) support the expansion of mission work in our country (home missions) and throughout the world (world missions), 2) support and maintain a strong system of training future pastors and teachers to go out with the message of the gospel, and 3) assist congregations in carrying out their mission by providing the necessary resources.
Our congregation is blessed to be a part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. May we all pray for our synod convention this month and the delegates who will represent us so that decisions may be made to the glory of our God and to the spread of the good news about Jesus and the salvation He has won for all people by His atoning sacrifice on the cross and triumphant resurrection.
Pastor William Balza