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Pastoral Tribute Sunday October 25, 2009
Written by: Walter Mack

When Pastor Gary Schack retired, my reaction was, “What now?”

After all, Pastor Schack had nurtured me in my desire to become a part of the Blessed Savior community. He had confirmed me in the faith. He was the only Lutheran pastor I had ever known. And he was a good preacher.

Never did he fail to make plain our need for confession, absolution and moment by moment forgiveness of our sins by the totally unearned grace of God. Every sermon affirmed God’s gift of His Son as the Sacrifice for our sins. Pastor Schack always spoke of faith in that Incarnate Son and His work as a gift of divine grace. So, my question remained, “What now?”

The way pastors are placed within our synod was entirely foreign to me. So in the months that our congregation began and carried out the call process for a new pastor, it seemed best to pray, “Lord, send us a good preacher.” The skills and talents, the education and training, the experience and commitment the new pastor brought us would be enhanced were he also a good preacher.

Since my first association with Blessed Savior Lutheran Church, we had been blessed with good preachers as part of the Vicarage Ministry. And several of the field workers assigned to us had preached very, very well, indeed. Any one of them would have seemed more than satisfactory. But most of these men had recently taken calls elsewhere or were still completing seminary. So my prayer continued, “Lord, send us a good preacher.”

Dear friends, God has graciously answered that specific prayer and the prayers of every one of us in sending us Pastor Matthew Roeglin.

In this day of emerging, emergent, purpose-driven, possibility thinking, your-best-life-now, you-can-have-whatever-you-want-you-just-gotta-have-faith, church growth and other works righteousness theologies, it is a blessing to hear from our pulpit the preaching of the Word.

Pastor Roeglin has faithfully declared the Law and our total inability to fulfill its demands.

Sunday after Sunday, he has proclaimed the satisfaction of those demands available to us only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Week after week, he has announced the forgiveness of our sins through Confession and Absolution. He has not hinted of anything we can do to achieve our salvation. He has preached Jesus Christ and what He did for us at Calvary and on Resurrection morn by the grace of God as the complete and only answer to our human moral dilemma.

Matthew Roeglin preaches the evangelical truth that we are saved by the undeserved grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Not surprisingly, Martin Luther had much to say about preachers and preaching. My personal favorite was his comment that a good sermon need not be long, and a bad sermon shouldn’t be.

Preachers and their congregations are in debt to this prince of preachers. At the time of Luther, homilies were mostly stories about the saints. It was Luther who made the sermon the center of the worship service. And it was Luther who made Christ the center and focus of the sermon. The liturgy of the Word looks forward to it; the Sacrament of the Altar flows from it. “Yes, I hear the sermon,” said Luther, “but who is speaking? The minister? No, indeed! You do not hear the minister. True, the voice is his; but my God is speaking the Word which he preaches.”

What an awesome responsibility.

Our pastor, Pastor Roeglin, continues this evangelical presentation of the Word that characterized the preaching of the German Reformers. Weekly, monthly, yearly, he preaches Christ and Christ alone for the salvation of not only sinners, but also of Christians. From one of the assigned Bible texts, he declares the sinfulness of us all, Christians and non-Christians alike. He then proceeds to announce the forgiveness of sins worked by Christ on our behalf. To do less than this is to reject and forsake his call.

If he were to use the text only to call us to deeper Christian living, he has forsaken his call. Were he only to preach Christ as an example we are to follow by the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, he has forsaken his call. If he only spoke of Jesus Christ as the answer to some need we have in our lives other than the forgiveness of sins, he has forsaken his call. If he only preached of some action our congregation should take to relieve pain or suffering somewhere in the world, he has rejected his call.

Thankfully, our pastor recognizes the need for presenting the promises of Scripture concerning the sufficiency of Jesus’ death to save sinners as well as the guilty Christian. He preaches that what saves us is not Christ’s work within us but what Christ did on a Roman cross twenty centuries past. Pastor Roeglin speaks this true Gospel which one rarely if ever hears from television preachers. From our pastor’s hands we receive the true body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. It is he who dismisses us with the words, “The body and blood of Jesus Christ by which He has made full atonement for all your sin strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Go in peace.”

And it is that simple. Only Christ and only His shed blood and we are forgiven as God gives us the grace to believe it. This is the true Gospel and it is the message Pastor Roeglin has preached so faithfully since ascending our pulpit.

Would you please stand.

Jesus Christ, You bought us with Your precious blood and reconciled us to God. Thank you for sending us Matthew Roeglin as our Pastor. Grant him continued faithfulness to Your Word. Enable him to declare the Gospel with freedom to everyone he meets. When Satan attacks, be his armor. When events discourage him, be his strength. When the scope of the work would seem overpowering to him, unleash the Word of Your salvation through him, that it may be heard throughout North County. To Your glory, O Christ. Amen.

Please be seated.

P.S. Some ideas expressed in this manuscript were originally published in "Modern Reformation" by Rod Rosenbladt.