As Dr. Gard wrote this while serving as a military chaplain deployed oversees, let us all remember to pray for our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who serve and God uses to provide for week after week of relative peace and quietness in our country.
Dr. Daniel Gard, one of the professors at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana currently deployed as a Naval Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba wrote:
I posted this on an on-line forum today in response to a pastor who laments what he perceives as less pastoral presence in the community than he himself has in his. I post it here to say thank you to the pastors who are the hands and feet and voice of the Babe of Bethlehem in places nobody seems to know even exist.
“Pastor X is a pastor in a large urban area that has seen more than its share of mass tragedy from 9/11 to Hurricane Sandy to the day to day, less publicized acts of violence and social conflict, poverty and a host of other ills. He and other pastors have been there to bring Christ to those who are suffering.
Pastors in Anytown, USA are also there with those who suffer whether those people are members of the parish or not. The national press pays no attention to the routine events of smaller towns and rarely are they the scene of the same mass tragedy that New York has suffered. But to the people affected the pain and suffering is their whole world at the time. And our pastors are there. If an event such as 9/11 happened in some small town in the Midwest, the local LCMS pastor would be there just as certainly as NYC pastors were there 11 years ago.
But just about everything a pastor does is under the radar. A parish pastor, for example, may bring the Altar to a member in a nursing home. While there, he will probably engage other residents and speak of God’s love to them. He will be in the homes of people and minister to them, their families and friends when tragedy strikes. He will attend a high school football game and sit next to the local town drunk, atheist or someone else. He will do these things and a thousand others. But no one will know outside of his parish.
With all due respect to DPs, they do not and cannot know what goes on daily in the ministry of every pastor in the district. To be sure, there are pastors who lock themselves away – but these are not the norm. They are the exceptions. Unfortunately, they often become the focal point of attention by the DP as the inevitable problems arise in their parish because they have isolated themselves. What does not draw attention is the simple, humble, dedicated work of the vast majority of parish pastors who serve in small and unnoticed congregations throughout the Synod. They seek no publicity and their names are not known outside of the places they serve. They will never be mentioned in a history book, even in a simple footnote. They seek no other honor than to someday hear the Savior say, ‘Well done good and and faithful servant.’These men are my heroes and I am humbled by the privilege of knowing them.”