What do Lutherans Look Like?

What do Lutherans who attend Missouri District congregations look like? We do not look particularly different from everyone else in a physical sense. Lutherans go to work in hospitals and office buildings, in classrooms and on the farms. We wear scrubs, overalls, and uniforms as we serve in our callings as workers. Our prayer is that regardless of the setting of our work that we would be clothed with Christ, the robe of His righteousness and the garment of salvation that by His Spirit our lives would also be adorned with good works in service to our neighbor. As St. Paul writes to the Colossians, we are called to “put on” those qualities of “God’s chosen ones.”

This month, thousands of Lutherans across Missouri District will be putting on those qualities of kindness, humility, meekness, and love along with a bright, neon yellow t-shirt. The Missouri District’s “SHINE!” Servant Event will include nearly 5000 LCMS Lutherans from more across the state. Serving is what we do in response to God’s service to us through the work of Christ on the cross and the Spirit through the Means of Grace.

This means that we look like those who care for college students, shut-ins, and even those who have been victims of human trafficking as Servant Event groups across Missouri serve those groups. We also use shovels and rakes, hammers and screw drivers as they use their abilities to serve their neighbors in love. We do not all look the same though. From the more than 100 groups participating, there are early childhood programs, elementary and high school students, campus ministry groups and even Lutheran Women’s Missionary League groups. These groups come from the inner city and the small towns. After a year of being distant from others, our prayer is that this is a time of renewal for the Church as we return to serving those around us in love.

The one thing for all of us to remember is that service in Christ’s name is not confined to an event, but rather a way of life. Our Lord Jesus Christ came among us as one who serves and who continues to serve us through His good gifts. Those who have been served by Christ are therefore freed to serve others in response. This concept is masterfully explained in Martin Luther’s landmark treatise, “On the Freedom of a Christian,” where he writes, “A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.” We have been saved not because of our service, but because of God’s grace and Christ’s service to us. Therefore we are free to serve in a variety of different ways, but with the gifts and abilities with which God formed us, creating us for good works as His instruments of service to our neighbor.

This issue of the Missouri District Voice highlights just a few of the groups and means of serving in our communities. If your group still would like to participate in the Servant Event sometime between April 16-25, please go to https://mo.lcms.org/shine/ for more information.

Lutherans who attend Missouri District congregations do not look like anything special. We are ordinary sinners, who have been covered over with Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Our prayer is that as we take to the streets during the SHINE! Servant Event that others will see our good deeds and praise our Father who is heaven! God’s blessings to you all as you “let your light shine.” (Matt. 5:16)

Fraternally in Christ,

President Lee Hagan

Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015.  He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska.  He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011.  Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002.  In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president.  Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012.  He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011.  He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives.  He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica.  He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas.  Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist.  They have two children, Caroline and Jack.