In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our country saw an explosion of immigration from several European countries. This is not really all that new, our country is, after all, technically made up of entirely of immigrants. What was interesting about that wave of immigration was that it presented a much larger scale problem for U.S. culture. The problem of assimilation. It is a problem we face with the increasing immigration from Mexico and Latin America today. How much of your native land do you hold on to and how much do you assimilate and become like the new land?
I think it is funny when older people, especially 1st or 2nd generation German-Americans, complain about Hispanic immigrants not learning the language. Truthfully, if there had not been two devastating wars in which Germany was a very big pain in the butt (to say the least), many Midwestern Lutheran Churches would still be having exclusively German services, there would be exclusive German neighborhoods, businesses, schools, libraries, etc.
This struggle with assimilation into a new culture is a very real struggle with Christians. We must never forget that, as Christians, this worldly truly is not our home. We are foreigners, strangers in a strange land. So, how much of our heavenly heritage do we hold on to and in what ways can we be like our present culture? Over and over again Scripture tells us that we cannot assimilate one bit. It is, in fact, impossible because we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.
It is part of the pastoral office to maintain our heavenly heritage. That's one very good reason why we do not simply do things the same on Sunday as we do the rest of the week. Our worship should be the last place we assimilate, and yet it is often the first place. My Fathers would weep to know of my limited knowledge of their native language. They would find it inconceivable that I do not have the German Small Catechism memorized. They would wonder if I were, in fact, truly Lutheran.
Perhaps our church Fathers would also weep to know of our limited knowledge of the native language of the Church, the divine liturgy. They, I'm sure, would find it inconceivable how little I know about the doctrines and struggles of the Church, perhaps they would even wonder, from all outward appearances, if I were even a Christian at all.
Our heavenly heritage is of great importance. While assimilation is a tempting thing, it is not an option for one who truly loves and longs to return to the Fatherland.