Martin Franzmann wrote, “Preach you the Word and plant it home and never faint; The Harvest Lord who gave the sower seed to sow will watch and tend His planted Word” (LSB 586:6). I remember singing this hymn in the pews at Kramer Chapel during my Seminary years, singing it at Heavenly Host Lutheran Church and Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church on Vicarage, Christ Lutheran Church at my first call, and now singing it at Zion Lutheran Church in Tomball, Texas where I currently serve. This closing verse assures the preachers, the called and ordained servants of the Word, that Jesus The Christ, will watch and tend the Word that is proclaimed. It is the assurance that Jesus will not abandon me or any pastor who preaches the Word in season and out of season to all that the Holy Spirit gathers to hear the Gospel. This hymn is a reminder that the pastor is not alone, but that Jesus is with him, as he bears the cross of the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Jesus is with the pastor as He baptizes, absolves, preaches the Gospel, administers the Sacrament of the Altar, and mutually consoles his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus does not leave the pastor, but is with him the whole way, encouraging him in the Word and strengthening him in the faith. However, Jesus is not with the pastor abstractly, but concretely. He is concretely with the pastor in the Word and in the Sacrament.
In addition to this, Jesus is with the pastor through the mutual consolation of His fellow brothers in the Office of the Holy Ministry. Through his fellow brothers, the pastor is comforted, consoled, strengthened, encouraged, and forgiven as he continues his work as the steward of the means of grace. Through his brothers, Jesus is with the pastor, building him up, and rebuking him when needed.
Pastors are to cover one another in the righteousness of Christ. They are in a blessed fraternity in which they bear the burden of the Office together. This does not mean that pastors excuse one another’s sins and make justifications for wrongdoing. No. They preach the Law and the Gospel to each other and absolve one another in the stead of Christ Jesus. They support each other. They do not tear each other down, but rather they put the best construction on one another, from the parish pastor to the Synod President.
This is something that we in the LCMS have lost. Pastors are not building one another up, or if they are, it is only within their own cliques. This must end because the devil is prowling around and the enemy is coming over the hill and all we are doing is eating each other alive.
My brothers in the Office, we must be there for one another. I don’t know what that looks like, but it must happen. So with this introductory article, I am asking that you write to me or post in the comments things I can write about that will be of help for you. Please give me situations in which we need to hear the Gospel in the midst of great despair.
My email address is [email protected] Please message me with ways in which we can begin to build up our fraternity again in order that we may continue to hand over the gifts of the cross to all we are called to feed and nourish.