Today is commencement and the end of the 174th academic year of Concordia Seminary. This evening when students receive their degrees and certificates, all of them will be using their hard-earned knowledge in the service of the church and congregations.
“When He ascended on high…and He gave gifts to men. He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers….” (Ephesians 4:8, 11) On the day Jesus ascended, there was no Paul the great apostle, just Saul the persecutor. On the day Jesus ascended, there was no Peter who knew that the Gospel was for Gentiles as well as Jews, no Peter who could stand up and preach boldly in defiance of hostile authorities. On the day Jesus ascended, there was no Book of Acts, not yet the amazing spread of the Good News. On the day Jesus ascended, there were no church fathers, no reformers, and none of the people who shaped our Christian faith traditions. On Ascension Day so much was in the future. The Great Commission had been given and God’s Spirit began at Pentecost to fulfill the promise, “This Gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.” (Matthew 24:14)
We see the work of God in retrospect. In the 2000 years since His ascension, our Lord Jesus has indeed given gifts and given pastors and teachers. As seminaries hold their commencement exercises, God is still giving gifts to His Church. Our prayer and our labor is that people generations from now will look back to these days and say, “The ascended Lord gave pastors and teachers.”
The academic year over, Diane and I are going to rest. We’ll be back after Memorial Day. Be safe. Keep praying.