Dr. Andrew Bartelt was the preacher at the morning worship service for the conferring of theological diplomas at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis on Friday, May 17. Working from Isaiah 2:2-5, he recalled the typical welcome offered to an incoming class, “We’re so glad you’re here” and added these words for the graduates: “But we can’t wait for you to go.” Just as Isaiah gained insight into God’s holiness and grace and was sent out (Isaiah 6), so the students have immersed themselves in His Word, and are now on their way.
While we are so thankful for those men and women who commit to academic preparation for full time church work as pastors and deaconesses, it’s a special time of celebration when they are ready to go and begin that work. As good as seminary life and education is, it means so much more when you’re out there. The Greek and Hebrew words, the history of Old and New Testament people, and the basic teachings of the faith come to life in the day to day routines, struggles and celebrations of the church. New lives cry out as others are commended to graves. Couples come together and others go their separate ways. Our lives are blessed one day and severely challenged the next. Each one who goes out will discover that the black and white lessons learned in the classroom are lived out in full color in the church’s life and ministry.
My son Adam and his wife Sarah, pastor and deaconess, have finished their education and will now begin their work. But there is a cycle they will repeat often. Their experiences will send them back to what they’ve learned, and what they learn will send them back out again in ministry. As natural as breathing in and out, we are drawn to our Lord’s promises, and then go back out into the world.
Thank you Dr. Bartelt, for your insights, images and message to this year’s graduates and families. Thank you Concordia Seminary for being both a place to prepare, and a place from which to go on the adventure of a lifetime that is full time ministry.