Mission Mosaic

(Editor’s note: We thank Pastor Dennis Bestul from Cupertino, California for this excellent article reminding us that traditional, liturgical worship exemplifies true diversity, reaching the lost from every background and walk of life.)

After our 11:00 divine service one Sunday, I reflected upon a much publicized and celebrated “Ablaze” project in our circuit: a new mission congregation called “Mission Mosaic”–an “innovative mission” designed to become the home for a multiplicity of ethnic backgrounds.

Driving home, I thought of those who had just confessed their sin and received absolution, those to whom I had just preached the Word and administered the Sacraments during the previous hour:

  • A young engineer born and raised in western Germany and his wife from Taiwan who’s a nurse at Stanford University Hospital. Their infant daughter, Katja Jia, was baptized with her “papa and oma” (just arrived from Germany) and her Chinese Grandma there to witness it.
  • Sitting near them was German Heidemann who met them before the service and was thrilled to be able to speak with them in her native tongue about the area of Germany she had come from . . . and she was attended to by a Philippino caregiver who could have spoken in her native tongue to a regular Philippino family which became members through Adult Catechetical classes a couple of years ago.
  • Across from them was one of our oldest members, born and raised near Copenhagen, Denmark, who sat across the aisle from a couple born and raised in Norway and who still speak Norwegian to one another in their home.
  • Behind her sat a husband and wife from India who are new to our area, but they’ve been in our services the last two Sundays and intend to return next Sunday. As the children of Evangelical Lutheran pastors in India they feel very much at home because of the church’s liturgy.
  • Across from them sat Richard, an African-American military recruiter, with his Swedish wife Lena (whom he met and married in Sweden) with their two 6’+ post-high school sons who are faithfully in services every Sunday, even as a Nigerian family which attends the 8:00 service has a 6’+ son who often serves as crucifer at the service they regularly attend.
  • Behind them: a young Mexican man married to a young German lady with three beautiful children who have all been baptized here. Nearby a Mexican mother with her three Mexican-German- Norwegian sons, my grandsons with whose father I am privileged to serve this congregation.
  • And not far from them, a Japanese member who, like his Japanese-American Indian ex-Adventist counterpart at the 8:00 service, is a soundly confessional Lutheran who has read more theological works than most seminarians and many pastors.
  • Not, of course, that we didn’t have a few Midwesterners there too: a young Wisconsin lady–early 20’s–who just moved here a short time ago and has attended services three times, this last time with a roommate she had invited to come with her. And across from them a young man who moved here from the Midwest only two weeks ago. Both indicated how good it was to be so far from home and yet to feel so much at home because of a common liturgy.

In addition to hearing the great organ and choir music they all did, they heard the beautiful violin music of Bach played by our own Chinese violinist married to German-American wife who sat next to her fully Chinese mother-in-law . . . who, along with all the above had just sung:

The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord!
She is His new creation by Water and the Word . . .

. . . the same Word of Christ Crucified preached for and praised by a beautiful blend of people from so many climes and every race who all–imagine it!–used the same historic Lutheran liturgy before kneeling at the same altar singing the same hymn verse that must have been written just for them:

Elect from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation: One Lord, One Faith One Birth..
One Holy Name she blesses, Partakes One Holy Food
And to One Hope she presses, with every grace endued!

“Mosaic ministry”? It’s right here among us every Sunday, and–“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”– we don’t even notice! We just call it The Lutheran Church of Our Savior.

The Rev. Dennis Bestul, Pastor
Cupertino, California

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Mission Mosaic — 8 Comments

  1. When I was at Fort Wayne in the early 90’s, I remember that Zion Lutheran, on the south side of the Fort, was known to draw quite a diverse congregation of nationalities and languages … and, yet, they all gathered together, like your church, under the same historic liturgy, singing the same hymns, hearing the same Scriptures. And it worked! Just like your church. (I can’t remember the name of the pastor there at the time … somebody else can think of his name …)

    God bless you and keep it going!

  2. Rev. Robert Schaibley … now I remember, the pastor at Zion/Fort Wayne. He’s now serving at the same congregation Steven Hein serves in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

  3. A beautiful story, Rev. Bestul. The Gospel of Christ in action in the Divine Service.

    It is especially heartening to me that the same congregation I was confirmed at in ’81 is still faithful today, and served by a faithful shepherd.

    Peace in Christ,

    Rev. Andrew Eckert
    Wellston, OK

  4. At my wedding rehearsal 29 years ago, the pastor leafed thru the bulletin we’d prepared and said, “You’ve got a regular United Nations here.” German, Slavic, French and Anglo names, and all Lutherans. And that was when the liturgy was still quite traditional, thankyewveddymush.

  5. Pastor Bestul,

    Now that is a blended service — in the proper sense of the term!
    The historic, traditional liturgy in its traditional musical setting (for several generations at least) — welcomes all with Christ’s gifts, and doesn’t distract with a flamboyent musical setting!!

  6. don’t forget the Italians, the Greek, the Irish, the Guatamalan and the Koreans… (i’ll bet there’s still more!)

    Excellent article Pastor!

  7. Pr Bestul,

    Well written!!! Looking forward to seeing Rich and Lena again soon out here in VA! We greatly missed your preaching when we were left CA! So glad to have it out here in VA now! We attended a Korean Lutheran Church when we lived in Korea and even as the only white people and non-Korean speakers it was wonderful to know that while I didn’t know all the words in Korean we knew the rhythm of the liturgy.

    Interesting this should be posted now. I was just noticing yesterday that our new church isn’t very uniformly “midwest.” We had a family from Ethiopia, an Assyrian Lutheran from Iran, father to a man married to a hispanic woman, another couple where the wife is Korean, there’s also the Chinese family that is currently away at seminary, and any number of other Spanish speakers who come because they started out at our bible study run by our pastor at the Assyrian/Hispanic couple business after hours.

    Liturgy, forgiveness of sins in the Word and Sacrament, in short, God created the mosaic of people out there and He brings us all to Him in His Son Christ Jesus crucified for us for the forgiveness of all our sins.
    In Christ
    Jenn Wolf at Bull Run

  8. What a great article! It’s wonderful to see the curse of “diversity” placed upon mankind at the Tower of Babel continue to be overcome by the purity of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in the post-Pentecost age. What marvelous gifts we have in the liturgy and hymnody of our chruch to help bridge those gaps, and to give people a connection to join “…together with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven…” even in a land far from their home!

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