I took this picture down a lonesome prairie road a few weeks ago. It is still not officially winter yet but this picture is a few weeks old. One of the things that we have in common up here in the North Country is snow and lonesome prairie and piney woods roads. The other thing that we have in common is more and more preachers who are servings more than two parishes. Thirty five years ago the dual parish was an exception and not the rule. We also received word from our District Presidents that the number of young men going into the seminary is at an all time low. The result of these things is a lot of what salesmen call “windshield time”. At a recent Pastors meeting we came to the conclusion that our little group averages about 100 miles of “windshield time” just on Sunday mornings.
No one was complaining please understand, but we all shared that stomach turning feeling that we have all had when it is – 25 and the vehicle we are driving in the middle of nowhere is acting like it wants to quit. We talked about the fact that we do these trips gladly but with some trepidation in the winter and we never talked about “burden”. Here is a piece from a paper from Hermann Sasse talking about a compulsion that preachers are under. Interesting. He is not trying to pedestalize the ministry or romanticize what pastors do and neither am I. I am sure that FedEx and UPS drivers have the same gut clutching feelings on occasion, but what Sasse tries to get at is the nature of the ministry and the fact that God calls us to do something that is fundamentally impossible for human beings to do. More on that tomorrow but for now……..
‘No one can understand the ministry of the Word who has not understood why the OT prophets call the ‘word’ a ‘burden’. No one can understand it unless he knows what Jeremiah and Paul have understood: ‘Necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’ (1 Cor 9:16).’
From ‘The Crisis of the Christian Ministry’, in Lutheran Theological Journal (Adelaide, SA) 2.1 (May 1968), pp34-46.