If I had my druthers, I'd be on my way to Sussex, Wisconsin, for the Concordia Catechetical Academy. This is the second year in a row that I've not been able to go, which has me feeling pretty glum. I kept hoping against hope that I'd find a way to make it this time, even if only for a day, but, alas, with my daughter's wedding two weeks ago and the Higher Things conference in less than two weeks, I simply couldn't afford to be gone again.
Mainly I wanted to go for "selfish" reasons, because the CCA has contributed so much to my Christian faith and life, and has assisted me tremendously in my pastoral growth and service. It probably sounds extravagant and dramatic to say, but the truth is that I am the pastor and the person I am today in large part due to the CCA. I understand my office and vocation better than I did, and better than I would have, thanks to the catechesis I have received from my very dear friend and colleague, Pastor Bender; both because of the good things he has to say, and because of the exemplary way he does what he does. I don't get to see him or talk to him nearly as much as I would like (another reason I regret missing the CCA again this summer), but there is hardly a day that goes by in which I do not recognize some benefit from the things he has taught me. Whether they realize it or not, my parishioners are better served because of those things, too, as well as my own family; and there's nothing more important to me as a pastor and a parent than that.
Aside from the benefits that I know I'd be receiving if I were at the CCA this week, I would gladly have gone if for no other reason than to lend my support to what Pastor Bender and his congregation are doing for the life of the Church. I know there are other good things happening here and there (both within and without the LCMS), but I know of nothing more significant, nothing more meet, right and salutary, than the Concordia Catechetical Academy. Of course I'm biased in this assessment; not because I've been a speaker at the CCA in many recent years, but because I have received and gained so much from attending the CCA. I would have floundered and failed years ago, I think, if the Lord had not preserved me with this catechesis.
If I had my druthers, not only would I be going to the CCA, but the entire LCMS would be there. What we need are those teleportation devices from the old Star Trek series. Beam us up, Peter, there's no intelligent life out here (or seemingly very little of it). Perhaps we could avoid the high cost of hotel accommodations by staging a CCA "Woodstock" of sorts. We could all camp out in the midst of the mud and the blood and the beer and listen to great catechesis non-stop for days on end. It would all be very eschatological and grand. I'm not sure what to say about food, except that if all the homeschooling moms and all the soccer moms packed coolers full of homemade sandwiches and stuff, I think we'd survive.