What makes someone pack up their goods and chattels, and with their family and maybe pets, travel far away from home to study Lutheran theology in Adelaide?
It is the call to serve in the office of the public ministry, as a pastor of the Church. This year, I have had the privilege of joining with our LCANZ bishops in the preliminary interview process for the seven men who are entering the final stages of preparation to be considered for ordination as Lutheran pastors.
This year’s final year pastoral ministry class at Australian Lutheran College includes: Paul Calnan; Jing (Jim) Luan; Shaun Manning; Peter Noble; Carl Richter; David Seligmann and Lee van Rossen. David and Jing are our 2019 Queenslander Final Year students: David went to ALC from our St Peters Congregation in Indooroopilly and Jing (who is called Jim) is from our St Mark’s congregation at Mt Gravatt.
This ‘magnificent’ seven includes young families, older couples and single men. One of the younger couples is even expecting a child early next year. Each of the seven have various backgrounds and experiences of the life of the Christian Church. What they all have in common is their faithfulness in the Gospel of our Lord’s death and resurrection. They all yearn to minister this good news by word and deed, for the blessing of God’s people, for the healing of the world.
They have the ‘inner call’ which the Lord has used, to enable them to step out in faith, to travel to Adelaide to take up studies at our Church’s theological institution for training pastors: Australian Lutheran College in North Adelaide, South Australia.
We learn about an example of this inner call in the Old Testament. In 1st Samuel chapter 3, the Bible tells the story of the boy Samuel, who heard a voice calling him by name. Samuel tells his master Eli about it and Eli perceives that it is the Lord calling to Samuel, so Eli tells him that the next time Samuel hears the voice, he is to respond by saying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And Samuel does just that and eventually becomes a faithful prophet speaking the Word of the Lord to God’s people.
Now the seven trainee pastors at ALC are ready to be tested by the ‘outer’ call whereby the congregations of the Church formally receive them as ‘called and ordained servants of the Word’. This includes final endorsement of the seven, by the College of Bishops as the seven are ‘approved for ordination’. This final step in their journey to the work of preparing a pastor is set for October this year.
Please pray for these men and their families as they enter this ‘last leg’ of the journey. Please also pray for those who are considering their inner call to train for the office of ‘pastor’ in the Church. Please pray also for each person who ‘serves the Lord’ in whatsoever vocation they are in – be inside the Church or outside of the Church – that each person would know that their labours in the Lord’s name are never in vain.