Years ago a pastor said to me that the Lutheran Witness serves to raise the question in your congregation “Why don’t we do that?” That’s true to this day. The Reporter which goes to that churchly office of “professional church worker” serves to make the assertion, “We are doing that!” The “we” is the LCMS and the “that” is the things of Babylon.
Harsh I know, but Babylon, the foe of the City of God from Genesis through Revelation, gives off a certain hum, a certain cadence, a certain rhythm. She’s buying, and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, planting and building. She’s busy making men so busy with the things of this life – making money, spending money, promoting this life, improving this life – that they don’t see any of the Days of the Son of Man until He comes in His Day of Judgment. And Babylon doesn’t tolerate anyone interrupting her beat or marching to a different Drummer, the One for whom the little drummer boy allegedly played.
Read the November 2013 Reporter and feel the buzz: “Man-Made tragedies a focus of disaster conference,” headline blares. Yes, at last, we’re doing some earthly good! “CUS enrollment hits new high: 33,399 students.” Hey, even though that is divided by 10 campuses, even though only 4,030 identify themselves as LCMS, these are our institutions, our bricks and mortar, our footprint to prove to Babylon we exist. And so what if only 4.6% of students are training to be professional church workers? These universities are still owned and operated, but not paid for, by LCMS, Inc.
If he who would sup with Satan ought to bring a long spoon, she who would dance to Babylon’s hum has to be careful she dances only with her Groom. Alarm is sounded on page 2 that while in 2007, 75.8% of the youth who attend the Synod’s youth conference believed that homosexuality is always wrong according to God’s Word that number dropped to 59.7% in 2010 and 55.7% this year. And Babylon is calling the tune for gay marriage as well. In 2007, 9.1% were in favor; in 2010 it was 18%, and this year it’s 24.9%.
Teens are closer to Babylon’s buzz than any other demographic, but what they will find if they continue reading the November 2013 Reporter will at best confuse them and at worse convince them that their synod isn’t interested in standing out from Babylon. The page 4 top headline says, “Harrison advises congregations on Scout decisions.” The article acknowledges the Boy Scouts May 23, 2013 decision to admit homosexual youth to scout programs. Then it tells us of “a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between the LCMS and the BSA – signed by Harrison and Wayne Brock, BSA’s chief scout executive – that pledges cooperation and mutual respect for each organization’s standards and beliefs.” Even though there is a new Christian-based “Trail Life USA” that scout programs could join, the LCMS, Inc. doesn’t recommend that decisive step. How could she? That would be totally out of step with Babylon’s tune.
Just when I’m ready to hang up my harp and weep because Babylon has demanded a song of us and we have sung (Psalm 137), a paper flutters out of the Reporter heralding “Giving Tuesday!” It says in part, “Giving Tuesday follows on the heels of ‘Cyber Monday,’ ‘Small Business Saturday’ and ‘Black Friday’ – events that benefit the retail industry and ‘kick off’ the holiday shopping frenzy. In a full-circle move, Giving Tuesday partners conceived the idea of a day for amplifying small acts of kindness to supercharge giving in an effort to change the world for the better. In creating a day focused on giving to charitable efforts, Giving Tuesday aspires to instill in others the joy of philanthropic giving!” Be not dismayed, your Synod has a role in Giving Tuesday. She is encouraging gifts be made to the LCMS Global Mission Fund.
O the irony. All the more pointed and painful because it’s brought home with explanation marks! Giving to “missions” is classed with giving to charity and philanthropic giving in general. But do note “Giving Tuesday” comes after “Black Friday,” after “Small Business Saturday,” and after “Cyber Monday.” Why couldn’t we have championed “Mission Thursday?” Because that would be calling our own cadence; that would be stepping out on Babylon.
I’m not calling for you to come out of Babylon as if the LCMS is her. I’m calling for our Synod to standout in the midst of Babylon. Because “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” (Psalm 137:4)? When we add our song to Babylon’s tune we’re doing the equivalent of putting Santa in our manger scene. We think by doing so we’re confessing Jesus in the midst of Babylon’s Christmas. No, we’re confessing Babylon’s Santa in the midst of the Christ of Christmas.
That’s why we don’t do that.