(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