Story Magazine

Fall, 2009

Notes from the Mission Field: Walking Together on the Road to Emmaus

by Richard H. Bliese, President, Luther Seminary

I've been enjoying Garrison Keillor's latest book, "Life Among the Lutherans." It's filled with wit and wisdom from the life and lore of everyday Lutherans. Keillor begins many of the stories in his traditional fashion: "It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon."

Well, we started the school year with a chapel service filled with new students (more than 250 in this year's entering class)! The atmosphere was exciting! The Spirit was calling and gathering new leaders for the church. Nevertheless, with these students coming from all around the country and the world (54 international students) to campus, two facts needed emphasis: This isn't Lake Wobegon, and life hasn't been quiet around here this week, this month or even this year. Since September 2008 the recession has hit everyone and every neighborhood hard. Tension fills our political debates and policy decisions from the ELCA concerning sexuality still reverberate in congregations. (And to top off this season of change, Brett Favre is playing for the Vikings!) Humor aside, change and challenge are in the air. The message for these new leaders is clear: Ministry doesn't happen in ideal settings. God sent his son—and sends the church—into a challenging world.

As its primary work, the seminary educates leaders for Christian communities called into apostolic witness. We do this by first walking together in mission. Luke 24 describes the story of Cleopas and a nameless disciple walking to Emmaus after the resurrection of Jesus. As they discuss the amazing events of the week—Jesus' crucifixion and the empty tomb—Jesus walks alongside and teaches them. "Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" As the disciples accompany each other, Jesus accompanies them. Finally, Luke writes, "Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted to them the things about himself in all the Scriptures" (Luke 24:27). Mission begins with the resurrected Jesus showing up among his disciples and teaching them how to understand Scripture.

At Luther Seminary, it may or may not be true what Keillor says: "All the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average." Nevertheless, whether strong or weak, good looking or plain, above average or poor, God has called us all to walk together on the road to Emmaus. It's there we will experience the Lord who will teach us Scripture and send us into mission.

Our mission isn't in recession. God's promise in Christ compels us. This report is filled with pages pointing to exciting developments at Luther Seminary. Join us on the walk—of mission.