11 June 2007

Pastoral Care Companion

One of the men whom Pastor Loehe sent over to this country, back in the nineteenth century, to provide pastoral care for the vast number of Lutheran immigrants who were scattered about without nearly enough pastors to serve them, wrote that a frontier pastor needs two things: He needs a horse to ride the far and wide circuit of churches he serves, and he needs a wife to keep him company. That's a pretty good list. I don't have a horse, but I'd be lost without my car. Whether lost or not, I'd definitely want my wife to be there with me, with our train of children following behind, variously batting their eyes and batting flies.

I'd add the new LSB Pastoral Care Companion to the list. Good things come in threes, and it's more trinitarian, but that's not the reason. This little book (albeit twice as big as the Lutheran Worship Little Agenda) is a gem. Kudos and many thanks to the faithful men who developed this tremendous resource for all of us. I don't really like the word "resource," but I'm not sure what else to call it. Maybe it would be better to describe it as a means of grace, since it confesses the Word of God throughout. Whatever you call it, every pastor ought to get one.

I'm thinking that the Agenda Committee of the Lutheran Hymnal Project should be given the Most Valuable Player award. The Agenda itself has already been a significant contribution to the life of the Church, but this Pastoral Care Companion may be the single most important component of the entire LSB "family." Studying the book, and putting it into practice, is like a course in pastoral theology. Pastors should be awarded continuing education credit for using it.

The bulk of the book is a section entitled "Resources for Pastoral Care." Included are introductory paragraphs providing guidance for dealing with a huge array of circumstances. Then there are Psalms and Readings and hymns and prayers to assist in all those different sorts of situations. I've never encountered anything quite like this before, and it is wonderful. I'm also very glad to have the Collects of the Church Year provided (for both the three-year and the one-year lectionaries, as well as for all of the feasts and festivals). And the self-examination questions intended for assistance in "Preparation for Confession" are a marvelous benefit, not only for pastoral care, but also for the pastor's own personal piety.

Thanks again, guys, and God bless you for this blessing.

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