Monday, January 4, 2016

Traveling Together

I have an uncle, Rev. Gordon Giese, who celebrates his 80th birthday next week.  He's a retired LCMS pastor, ordained in 1961.  I write this little devotion in thanksgiving for his faithful service to our synod.

"...but supposing Him to be in the group (Luke 2:44).

In the Greek original, the word for group is "synod," and it's worth a closer look.  (It is used only here in the New Testament, although a verb form occurs in Acts 9:7.)

And that's partly because my congregation and I are part of a church body called The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, made up of over six thousand congregations.  It was established in 1847 by German immigrants in search of religious freedom.

It's often said that "synod" means to "walk together."  But there's a little more to it, and the picture given in Luke 2 is perfect.

In traveling to and from Jerusalem for the Passover, Joseph, Mary, and twelve-year-old Jesus (at least on the way there) were part of a synod: a caravan made up of relatives, friends, and neighbors.  People did this because there was safety in numbers.  They could also help each other on the way.  They probably sang.  They shared the journey and its joy - and its challenges.

That's a synod.

And that, then, is the idea behind the Missouri Synod.  A caravan.  A people traveling together through a spiritual desert or dangerous country on the way to the Heavenly Jerusalem.  No one and no congregation travels alone.  We help and encourage each other!  We share the joy and the challenges of the journey, singing our way to the Feast!

"Synod," in the minds of many, is synonymous with bureaucracy.  Such a pity!  In reality, no better word for the church could be found than the one that means a caravan of pilgrims.  "Pilgrims here, our home above, full of faith and hope and love!"