Monday of Holy Week: THE SETUP

[One of the practices at Concordia Theological Seminary is having a professor preach through one of the Passion accounts Monday through Wednesday of this week. This year it is my turn. Here is homily number one. I have included a link to the chapel service at the bottom of the post. -TAP]

Dr. Todd A. Peperkorn
Kramer Chapel
April 11, 2022
Monday of Holy Week
Matthew 26:1-56

“THE SETUP”

Jesus got it. 

The chief priests and the elders of the people got it. 

The woman got it.

 Judas got it. 

The Father got it.

Even the soldiers got it.

Everyone, it seems, knew what was going to happen. It was a setup. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, was going to die. There were some who wanted it to happen, who thought they could even make it happen. There were some, especially the woman here, who saw it coming and could do nothing but prepare Him before burial. Jesus saw it coming, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:2) Certainly the Father knew it was coming, although His silence in the Garden is, well, troubling. They didn’t all know WHY it was coming, Jesus’ death, but they all knew THAT it was going.

All of them, that is, but the disciples.

Jesus had been preparing them for three years on what was to happen, that the Son of Man would be betrayed into the hands of sinners, would die, and on the third day would rise again from the dead. This should not be a surprise.

Truth be told, this had been foretold from the beginning. The serpents head would be crushed. The Ram would be sacrificed so that Isaac would live. The blood would go on the doorposts, and the Lamb would be eaten in haste. Israel has its Rock, its bronze serpent, its Manna, its substitute. God’s people live by the death of His Son. It has always been so, and now that great sacrifice for the sins of the people comes into sharp focus.

Jesus is so clear in purpose that when they gather to recline at table, they still recline. This IS my body. THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE COVENANT, WHICH IS POURED OUT FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. It is as if it is a done deal for Jesus. All that is left is the dying and rising. The blood marks your door, faith points to it, and death passes o’er.

But the disciples still don’t get it. ONE OF YOU WILL BETRAY ME, Jesus says, and they go IS IT I, LORD? Surely not I! We have followed you for years. We are the good ones. We are the righteous ones. We are the ones who have it together. Right Lord, right?

But lest we be unclear, Jesus speaks to you as much as He did to them. You have betrayed Him as much as Judas. You have plotted to have your own way as much as the schemers in the San Hedron. You are as clueless as the disciples. You are as arrogant as Peter. The kiss of Judas is on your lips, and mine.

But for all their planning and plotting and scheming and fear and unbelief and violence and anger, it was a setup, but not by them. It was a setup by the Father. Our Lord’s passion and death is setup, so that you would live, not die. Jesus’ blood is poured out for you. It has been setup from before the foundation of the world. The flock will be scattered, but He will then gather them together under His wings.

God’s setup is for you. Jesus will drink the cup of suffering which is the will of the Father. He will be struck so that you might be healed. He will suffer abandonment and loss, so that you may rest in His gracious presence forever. He will endure the very curse of God, so that you may receive the blessing forever.

Lord have mercy upon us forevermore. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Bulletin for Services MONDAY through WEDNESDAY

Daily Chapel Link (from here you just click on the service for 04/11/2022. It is on the right.)

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty-Five Years

Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of my ordination into the Office of the Holy Ministry.

This trip began as odd as one would expect. My colleague, Scott Stiegemeyer, and I were serving as admission counselors at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. It was just a few short months since Dean Wenthe was elected president. It marked the end of the so-called Babylonian Captivity of the seminary (1989-1996), and the beginning of a new era of renewal in the Gospel. CTWFW was desperate to get its recruitment back on track after several years of much smaller classes. Controversy is never good for the health of an institution, even if sometimes it is painfully necessary. Scott and I were both planning on doing STM work (he had already done so for a year), and so agreed to see what we could do to be of service.

It took about six months for all of the paperwork and stuff to get figured out before we were actually called. So in what I believe is the only instance of this happening in the LCMS until that time, we were ordained into the Office of Recruiting and Admissions. The service was in Kramer Chapel, and was comprised basically of the faculty, my pastor (Richard Radtke), and Scott’s pastor (Peter Ledic).

I remember quite vividly having a conversation with Prof. Kurt Marquart about what it meant to be ordained into this work, plus having a contract, but not really having an altar in any meaningful way. “Sometimes the church engages in felicitous inconsistencies,” he said while paraphrasing Pieper.

Since that time I’ve been blessed to serve two amazing congregations (Messiah in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Holy Cross in Rocklin, California), We went through 9/11 and the Yankee Stadium debacle. I ended up suffering from major clinical depression, becoming suicidal, and going on disability for a year. My wife, Kathryn, and I have had four children, with two more in the bosom of Abraham. We spent the last ten years in Northern California, learning about being confessional Lutherans in a post-Christian society, and serving with some of the most amazing people anywhere. I also did a DMIN in preaching at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis.

The past six months has brought us back to Fort Wayne, where I am now teaching pastoral counseling, field education, and homiletics, and also serving as the director of vicarage. It has allowed me to serve students and help prepare the next generation of pastors. So in some ways I guess I’ve ended up back right where I started.

My colleague, Scott, has served two parishes, been back at CTSFW in admissions, and is now teaching as Concordia University Irvine. One could never hope for a better friend or colleague in the Office.

What will the next twenty-five years bring? I don’t know. What I do know is that serving as a pastor is both cross and blessing. But it is Christ’s office, not mine. We are but unworthy servants.

Go and thank your pastor sometime. Hold him up. Share all good things with your teachers. And rejoice that the Lord of the Church uses such earthen vessels to bring about His holy purposes.

Soli Deo Gloria

Effort-Reward Imbalance Theory and Pastors

So today’s research has led me to Effort-Reward Imbalance theory, which is a model for predicting the impact of high-effort and low-reward tasks have on people. It was originally designed with teachers in mind (sometimes called an ERI Questionnaire), it is a fascinating read of how as human beings if we have things that take a ton of work but seem to have little discernible benefit, this is hard on our emotional well-being.

Shocking, I know.

It lends itself very easily to clergy as well. I think it could to almost anyone in a service field where you are primarily dealing with people. It is very difficult for us as human beings to discern how the work we do actually affects other people. I think this may be why St. Paul exhorts students to share all good things with their teachers (Gal. 6). We as human beings need lots of positive feedback.

Enter in social media.

Now we have an artificial or at least superficial way of receiving positive feedback. But instead of giving us satisfaction for where God has placed us (vocation) and receiving help where God gives it, social media creates and addictive loop these little jabs of dopamine try to replace the “Well done, good and faithful servant,” that our Lord gives to us by His Word and spirit.

So here is my question for today: how do we truly encourage our pastors and teachers, build them up, and help them to rejoice that God uses them as instruments for His good and holy purposes?

For Further Reading:

Proeschold-Bell, RJ, A Miles, M Toth, C Adams, BW Smith, and D Toole. “Using Effort-Reward Imbalance Theory to Understand High Rates of Depression and Anxiety Among Clergy.” Journal of Primary Prevention 34, no. 6 (2013): 439–453.

A Chapter Closes, A Chapter Opens

Last Friday marked the official beginning of Dr. Thomas Egger’s tenure as president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. This serves as a milestone in the history of Concordia Seminary, as Dr. Egger is the eleventh president in its illustrious 183 year history. (As an aside, I’m a bit saddened that very few people got my “this one goes to eleven!” joke in the inauguration. Has no one seen This is Spinal Tap?) He isn’t the youngest president, although perhaps he looks the youngest. Before him my friend, Dr. Dale Meyer, retired as president after fifteen years. As the chairman of the Board of Regents for the past three years, it was my great honor to oversee both Dr. Egger’s coming in and Dr. Meyer’s going out.

Today marks the end of my service on the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary, a position I have held since 2015. Because of my new call, it was right and salutary that I resign from the Board of Regents, effective August 31. The Board of Directors of the LCMS will appoint a replacement for me until the end of my term, which will be up in 2026. My dear friend and former vice-chairman, Rev. Max Mons, now serves as the chairman of the CSL Board of Regents.

It would be fair to say that I have been a “Fort Wayne” oriented pastor for my entire ministry, and so my service on the Board may have appeared odd to many. After all, I graduated from Fort Wayne with an MDIV (1996) and an STM (1999). I even worked in the admission office for three years (1996–1999).

Perhaps it was odd, but it was also very good. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has two wonderful seminaries. They are very different. The curricula are different, chapel life is different, and the cultures on campus are different. Once a student graduates and becomes a pastor, though, they simply are a pastor, not a “St. Louis” pastor and a “Fort Wayne” pastor. So there is good sense if having pastors from both schools involved in the governance of both schools. We need each other, and to suggest anything else is folly of the highest order.

Most of you know that at the end of July I accepted a call to serve at my alma mater, Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. I will be serving as an assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions. That is Fort Wayne lingo for what used to be called the Practical Department. I will be teaching pastoral counseling, homiletics (preaching), field education, and serve as the director of the vicarage program. As things work in higher education, I’m sure there will also be “other duties” as they are needed.

The Lord has seen fit to move me from governance of one institution to teaching in another. I won’t deny that coming to Fort Wayne feels like coming home. While most of my teachers from twenty-five years ago are long since retired or with the Lord at rest, this is where I was shaped as a student and formed into a pastor. This is home, even though we left Fort Wayne 22 years ago. Kantor Resch is retired, but Kantor Hildebrand is here and doing great work with the Kantorei. Dr. Marquart is with the Lord, but I am sure that Dr. Masaki is a worthy successor. That list could go on for some time, but you get the idea.

God is merciful, and I do not deserve to be here. I am a parish pastor, first and foremost. It is my prayer that the decades I spent in the parish will serve to help shape the pastors of the next generation that come through this place. I learned from some of the best teachers our Synod has ever produced. Hopefully they rubbed off in some way or another.

So to my friends at Concordia Seminary I say farewell. I came to love the campus and the people. That will not change. And to my friends here at Concordia Theological Seminary, both old and new, I say hello. I’ll do my best not to drive you too crazy. But I’m not making any promises.

—Todd A. Peperkorn

Pastor Peperkorn Accepts Call to CTSFW

[This is a copy of the letter I sent to my congregation last night. -TAP]

 The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

July 22, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then the disciples went back to their homes.”

It is with both joy and sadness that I am announcing I have accepted the call to teach at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I am deeply grateful and joyful for the opportunity to help shape the pastors of the next generation of The Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod. This is something I have hoped for a long time. My love for pastoral formation, mentoring, and teaching pastors has been evident for many years. That has included teaching at CTSFW on an adjunct basis for about ten years, but it has also included my service on the Board of Regents at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, for the past six years.

But even as I write these words, I am also sad at the thought of leaving Holy Cross Lutheran Church, and of leaving parish ministry for the foreseeable future. I have been a parish pastor nearly my entire adult life. Holy Cross has shaped me in that way, just as Messiah Lutheran Church in Kenosha did before we were here. I love being a pastor. I love preaching, teaching, celebrating the Sacraments, and being steeped in the lives of God’s people in this place. While I look forward to the next realm of service, my first love will always be altar, pulpit, and font. This is my home.

As I indicated in my letter on Monday, because of the timetable for schools in Fort Wayne, we are having to move much quicker than would be normal. Kathryn and I believe it is important that we get Richard and Beata settled in their schools in Fort Wayne at the beginning of the school year, rather than spend extra weeks here and have them start late. Richard’s high school orientation is on August 9. Because of this, our last Sunday at Holy Cross will be on August 8.

We will be here for the next three Sundays (July 25, August 1, and August 8). Things are going to be crazy with packing and everything else in the next couple of weeks, but we will do everything we can to spend time visiting as much as we are able.

You can expect to hear from Walt Wismar and Rick Fielitz in the next few days about the next steps for Holy Cross. Please keep us and Holy Cross in your prayers. This will be a big change for all of us, but God is good, and He will guide us all in His peace.

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said > to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

With much affection in Christ,

Todd A. Peperkorn, STM, DMIN

Senior Pastor

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

 

CC: Rev. Michael Lange, CNH District President

Rev. Duane Bamsch, Circuit Visitor

Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr., CTSFW President