• Chocolate. There was an ample supply of chocolate. Like Pavlov’s dog, I now salivate whenever I know there’s going to be a missionary present because they always seem to bring chocolate. Plus, they broke out the M&M’S at the BOD meeting, both plain and peanut. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
• Three outstanding speakers in Pastors Jonathan Fisk, Bryan Wolfmueller, and James May who, each in his own unique way, bathed us in the Gospel. (Watch them here.)
• The breakout performance of comedic genius, Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller. His comedy routine went beyond mediocrity! I am now officially concerned that other synods are going to start recruiting him. Hopefully somebody in the LCMS will sign him to a long-term contract.
• In a wonderful Vespers Service and a Divine Service, Pastors Hans Fiene and Tony Sikora delivered the goods with rock-solid Law and Gospel preaching. It is truly great to be a Lutheran. The music is still playing in my head (along with the distant whine of a jet engine or two) as I sit writing this on my way back to Seattle.
• A little excitement: There was a small explosion, fortuitously contained within the confines of a room in the basement of the Fox home (no one got hurt). Take beer and cigars, a pipe or two, and mix them with a group of confessional Lutherans, and a spontaneous combustion of joy and serious raucous theological bombast is bound to happen. (What would you expect when you’ve got guys like the creators of Fighting for the Faith, Lutheran Satire, Table Talk Radio, and Worldview Everlasting in the room.) This truly is the mutual conversation and consolation of the brothers. Bonds are forged here that can never be broken. The walls, however, will need to be pressure washed to remove the tar, nicotine, and knock off the residual chunks of dried theology.
• Spending time with people from other synods: BJS is pan-Lutheran after all. And wouldn’t you know it – we all seem to share the same challenges.
• I hitched a ride with Chris Rosebrough in his wrapped Pirate Christian Radio SUV. When was the last time you cruised Naperville in a car with a praying skeleton on the side? Of course, more serious theology ensued. I was bobbing and weaving the whole time to keep from getting a bad burn from all the brain waves emanating from Chris’s head as we shared a light-hearted discussion about communitarianism, fascism, and their relationship to the Church Growth Movement. It’s a minor miracle we actually found our way considering I wasn’t doing a good job navigating around all the repartee.
• Best of all, I could see the future of the LCMS unfolding before me. Gathered together were a group of young pastors experiencing the tentatio that comes when one grapples with the realities of life, and of life together. These are guys who are serious about theology. They, and other men like them, are the ones who will form the backbone of our synod in the decades to come, and for this I am joy-filled!
• And of course, I am joy-filled for friends I was reunited with and new friends made. The only down side – I never made it to the scotch tasting party at the Gavin’s house or to Quigley’s Irish Pub. Hopefully you did. And if you didn’t make it to the conference, there’s always next year. It’ll be worth the trip.
photo credit: Tc Morgan on Flickr