I've been pondering how to put this into words and fear I shall fail, but nothing tried, nothing gained. What I saw in San Antonio was "the other Synod." The one that tends to be ignored in the official press of our Church, and in the litter of blogdom. As a friend replied to an earlier post, some Districts won't even commend or mention HT because it's not an recognized service organization of Synod.
We major so much in all that's gone crazy - and I do not mean in the least to diminish the seriousness of what HAS gone wrong. I sat at dinner one night with two pastors who have been dismissed from their churches for no just cause; and listened to a friend whose parish is no longer in Synod. The official Synod, the plastic Synod that seeks to be an imitation of dying Evangelicalism with its big personalities and their "ministries," LCMS, Inc. that is all caught up in itself with its bylaws and handbook, is all too real, alas.
But so is this other Synod, where the youth learn their heritage as nothing to be ashamed of or to hide; where they "dare to be Lutheran" and sing the faith with gusto in our hymns and liturgy. Where pastors toil on in some truly grievous situations all for the joy of imparting to these young folk the unshakable hope that is ours in the Gospel; where their parents and youth leaders want to make sure they know the joy of being a Lutheran Christian.
If at times we are tempted to feel the hopelessness of it all, like Samwise and Frodo headed into Morder, there are times we can look up and say: "A light! Look, Mr. Frodo, it's not all going his way!" Higher Things provides such a light. A time of hope for the future of our church and for the young people who, coming to know and love the Gospel of Christ, will, by that Gospel, be strengthened to carry forward a heritage that serves that Gospel and seeks to impart it to others. An army of future Lutheran laity who will not be sold a bill of goods or trade in their rich heritage for a lousy bowl of evangelical pottage because they will not be robbed of Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone. They're out there! I've seen and met them.
Often unsung and not terribly flashy, the other Synod is, I would posit, our true future. It will outlast the other, the plastic Synod, for its strength is the Gospel, the gifts of the Lord; and living from His gracious giving, it lives unassailably in Christ. So, ne desperemus et soli Deo gloria!