Last Tuesday I was given the most extraordinary opportunity. I was walking to church for an elders meeting in my work clothes (black clerical collar and black pants) listening to archived episodes of Issues, etc about the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession in preparation for the Divine Service in celebration of its anniversary when a man sitting in a car in the Shell station parking lot motioned me over.
Of course, my sinful, cynical nature assumed this young man was looking for some kind of financial help and saw an easy mark in a clergyman. I asked him if I could help him. He asked if I was a priest, I told him I am a Lutheran pastor. To that, he responded with several very deep and serious questions about our Christian faith, especially when compared with the Roman Catholic faith. We talked for about 20 minutes. It was truly wonderful. Had I not just listened to two hours on Roman Catholicism from now fired Reverends Todd Wilken and Martin Noland, I would not have had the answers I did for this young man and his friend.
This is what true mission and outreach are about. It's not all about programs and gimmicks. It's not about "critical events." It's not about asking a waitress if you can pray for her. It's about the work of the Spirit creating these amazing and low-key opportunities. It's about Christians living their faith, being ready to give and account for the hope that fills them.
These two people may never come to Good Shepherd. I have certainly been praying that they would, but it is not for me to give the growth. I am simply a laborer in the Lord's vineyard. I can only give what He has given me to plant. He will cause all the growth.
So, now I wonder if I turned this witnessing story into the Ablaze! (tm) story page, that through the power of the Spirit I was able to share our Lutheran Confession of faith. That I was prepared to do so by the teaching of two faithful men who have been fired for "programmatic and business reasons." That the opportunity came only because I was dressed for work, that is in the clerical uniform of the Church of the Lutheran Confessions.
Well, they didn't post my daughter's baptism story, so we'll see.