Over the course of five weeks, more than 30,000 LCMS Lutherans will gather in three different places across the country. First, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Biennial Convention kicks off on Thursday in Mobile, Alabama. Then the LCMS National Youth Gathering will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Finally the LCMS Convention will be held in Tampa, Florida in late July. While they may seem to be very different gatherings, I would say that there are three chief similarities and lessons to be learned for after these events.
Here are a few details on each of the upcoming events. More than three thousand women from across the country and even across the world will assemble in Mobile “In Praise to the Lord” for worship, study, service and to conduct business. In addition to electing leaders, the LWML delegates will adopt a mission goal for the next biennium. Two year’s ago, their goal exceeded $2 million. LWML Missouri District President Sally Handrick and 25 other women from Missouri will be there in an official capacity, though many more will be there to be part of the celebration.
There will be 25,000 youth and adults in Minneapolis from across the Synod. Missouri District will have the largest group with nearly 2000 at the convention and more than 1600 attending the district event. The gathering, under the theme “Real.Present.God.,” will provide opportunities to worship, grow in God’s Word, hear speakers on a wide range of topics, participate in servant events and meet other Lutheran youth. There are many challenges that our young people are facing today and we are thankful for the time for them to be equipped and strengthened through God’s Word for life in this changing world.
The last group to gather will be delegates to the Synod Convention in Tampa under the banner “Joy:Fully Lutheran.” There will be resolutions to adopt and elections to conduct, but the convention is also an opportunity for worship and learning more about the work of our Synod and all its different agencies and institutions across the country and even around the world. While elections often lead to political machinations, what should not be lost is the importance and joy of declaring fellowship with other church bodies and setting direction and priorities for our Synod for the next three years.
While the ladies will be wearing lots of purple and the youth will be wearing t-shirts and shorts with bright colored backpacks and the delegates will be wearing Tampa convention casual, there are three great similarities between all of these events. The first is the emphasis on growing in the Word of God. 502 years since the Reformation was launched, Luther’s emphasis on the Word
of God still permeates everything that we do. Each day our groups will
be gathered around the Word of God as they learn and grow together.
Secondly, each gathering will be a celebration of what Christ has done and the unity that we share. What binds together men and women, young and old(er), small town and big city, and people from diverse backgrounds is the One who died on the cross and rose again from the grave, who has made us One, in our shared confession.
Lastly, all three events have a focus on mission and service. From words
to actions, each of these groups is part of a call to bear witness to Christ while there, but also in our daily lives.
The great lesson that we can learn from these three gatherings, whether
we attend them or not, is that growing in the word, celebrating the unity
that we share and focusing on mission and service should not be themes for conventions, but we are each week in our congregations and each day in the world. Let’s be who God calls us to be. Loving, serving, confessing Lutheran Christians with a passion for God’s Word, service, mission and young people.
This does not have to be just for three weeks. This is who God calls us to
be and to work together to that end. May all of us be focused on these three things in our life together in the LCMS: growing in the Word, celebrating our unity and focusing on mission and service.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan