(Editor’s note: This is a new column that will introduce to us those who were not born Lutheran but have been bred so in the rich Gospel soil of such gifts as Issues, Etc. Look for a new post in this column every 2-3 weeks.)
I enjoy a good beer. I enjoy a good brat. In fact I have enjoyed both for a long time, a time that reaches back well beyond my Lutheran identity. I am one of the lucky ones, I was bred Lutheran.
I was bred Lutheran not born. I am late to the feast; an eleventh hour worker in the vineyard. I was not baptized as an infant; it took 36 years for me to be grafted into my eternal family. I was fortunate enough to see my own children baptized next to me at a simple font with plain water and Divine words by a called servant of God, Himself. I did not have the benefit of faithful, faith-filled, parents to instruct me at home and to get me to catechism class on time. I have no catechism verse to call my own and, so, often feel a bit less Lutheran than my peers. I console myself in the knowledge that our church father Martin himself was not born Lutheran. He had to discover the truth of faith by grace alone later in life after suffering a tormented youth, a domineering father, and an idol of an all powerful, all demanding, insatiable God. He was born “Roman”.
Why am I so lucky?
Until I heard the clearly divided Word of God, His Law AND His Gospel, here in this humble Lutheran church, I was a heathen. Until I found myself sitting next to other sinners in need of a Savior, I was a pagan. Until I saw Christ’s death on a cross, for me, I was lost. But now I am found and have been bred into a competent Lutheran. I may use the wrong words from time to time in explaining a theological subtlety, but I have truly grown to love the liturgy, have read Walther, have belly laughed at the frank directness of Luther, and rest my life on the promises of Christ. I have been found and given an eternal home through the faith that is so clearly expressed and confessed in our Lutheran understanding of God’s own Word. I knew only darkness, but now there is Light.
Some born Lutheran sometimes fall into a darkening trap of familiarity. They exchange the Gospel’s comfort for worldly activity. They know they are saved. They know they don’t have to earn their salvation. Yet some grow to take the gift for granted. The temptation to look inward not upward for purpose and direction is easily mistaken for good works. Some even confuse mission for message. As one brought into the light, it can sometimes be easier to remember that which we must not take for granted, the gift of salvation bought at a price; a gift bought by Someone else’s blood and yet given freely. We know what it is to live without that precious gift.
I thank my God that he condescends to meet us here in simple words and simple elements. The faith we share is a simple faith. I thank my God that he gives us faithful preachers and proclamation, like Issues Etc., where we can continue to grow in our understanding of this simple faith. It is taught, preached and confessed by those both born, and bred, Lutheran. In days to come we will meet other “Bred Lutherans” and reflect on the grace lavished on poor miserable sinners, “of whom I am chief.”
Grace Lutheran Church