It is pretty clear from even a cursory reading of the New Testament that the Holy Spirit is present in the Lord’s church actively creating and sustaining faith through the forgiveness of sins regardless of the size of that particular body of believers. “For where two or three are gathered in my name,” says Jesus, “there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20). What this means is that every congregation gathered in the Name of the Triune God and gathered around the Lord’s Word and Sacraments has all of the gifts which Jesus has promised to give to His church. Whether big or small, in our worship, preaching, and teaching, the Holy Spirit is at work just as Jesus promised. Christian congregations are then, by God’s design, independent. We don’t need to wait for an authority outside of the congregation to tell us what to do. We have Jesus’ commands, commission, and promise.
On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that God would have Christian congregations be “lone rangers.” We are also members of the one church, that is, the entire body of believers of all places and times. God would have us care for the needs of Christians around the world and also work to advance the mission to unreached people all over the globe. The concerns of our brothers and sisters in other places are our own concerns too. Congregations are independent, but they are also interdependent. That too is by God’s design.
One of the ways we express this interdependence and work together towards the common mission of the one church is by being a part of a synod. Our synod is a network of approximately 6,000 congregations working together to bring the Word of God to all the world.
To better serve ministry in our locale, the Synod is divided up into 35 districts. We are a part of the South Dakota District, as most of you are aware. Did you also know that districts are subdivided into circuits? Our congregation is part of Circuit 5 (out of 8), which stretches north to Huron and Wolsey, south to Tripp and Delmont, and west as far as Gregory, Winner, and Chamberlain.
The purpose of a circuit is to provide a network of support to congregations and pastors in our local area. The pastors of our circuit gather together every month to worship, have fellowship, study, and give and receive counsel regarding particular challenges in our ministries. But circuits are also there for congregations and congregation members to support each other! This happens through opportunities for study and fellowship, worship together, and coming together to support each other in ministry.
One opportunity to get to know some other members of our circuit (and our circuit’s pastors) is coming up this month. Every year, our circuit gets together for a special Reformation service on Reformation Sunday. The location rotates each year, but this year it is our privilege to be the host congregation!
On Sunday, October 31st, we will be having a special Reformation Vespers service at 4pm with a dinner to follow. You’ll get to hear a special guest preacher, Rev. Ryan Loeslie of Immanuel Lutheran, Dimock. We also plan to have some special music, and possibly some additional music talent from around our circuit. During the meal, Pastor Loeslie will also give a very brief presentation on Lutheran hymnody and music.
This should be a fun way to get to know some others in our circuit and to worship and have fellowship with them. It’s a small but easy way to work together on fostering our ties and unity in Christ, so that together we may bear one another’s burdens and further the sharing of the Gospel in our part of South Dakota.
I hope you’ll be able to join us for this special occasion! If not, keep looking for opportunities to get to know brothers and sisters in Christ in other congregations in our circuit. There will be other events and opportunities in the future. I guarantee you will be blessed by their support, and you will be a blessing to them as well.
Together in His service,