Rev. Mark Buetow
As you move up out of middle school and into high school and from high school into college, the Lord has given you, beside your parents, teachers, and other adults to help you, a very important person: your pastor. This week, the church celebrates the festivals of three pastors (St. Timothy on January 24 and St. Titus on January 26, with St. Paul’s Conversion in between). It’s a good time to stop and remember why you need a pastor more than ever as you face the challenges of going from youth to adult.
Let’s start with your Baptism. The pastor you have now may or may not be the one who baptized you. But the pastor whom the Lord has given you now has the job of reminding you whose child you are even when it seems like you’re a wandering orphan. Your pastor will remind you that when you were washed with water and the Word, you were made a child of God. Right now, there are a lot of influences around that want to force their identity on you. Be cool. Be bad. Be yourself. Be whatever you want. When all those confusing voices make you uncertain, your pastor will remind you who you are and to whom you belong. In Jesus, by your Baptism, you are a child of God. You are His dear and precious child because His dear and precious Son died and rose for you. When you doubt your identity, ask your pastor. He’ll tell you!
Holy Absolution. Your pastor knows you. He knows what you do even if you don’t tell him. He was a kid once. He was in high school. He went to college. He knows the temptations that are out there. And so it is that your pastor may gently take you aside and remind you that you might not be acting like a child of God. That there might be some repentance needed there. Yet your pastor would only do that so that He can absolve you. Forgive you! Declare to you the Good News that even though you’ve messed up, pulled a whopper, done something stupid, in short, you sinned--for Jesus’ sake those sins are gone. Wiped out. Bled for by Jesus. Died for by Jesus. Left in the empty tomb by Jesus. Forgiven. Forgotten by God. Your pastor’s job is to remind you of that. When you are burdened in a way that you can share with no one else, go see your pastor. He’ll lead you to the cross and the font and the altar and pronounce forgiveness so that you can go in peace!
The Word. Your pastor is there to help you face the challenges to your faith that the devil, world and your own sinful nature throw at it. Especially in high school and college, those around you are good at challenging what you believe, calling it into question, trying to prove to you that it’s wrong and foolish. Sometimes even your close friends who belong to other denominations and religions will try to show you that what you believe is wrong. Your pastor is ready to strengthen you with God’s Word. With the comfort of the scriptures. With the Good News of Jesus. Along with reminding you of God’s promises, your pastor can help you sort out the arguments and issues you have to deal with and understand them with the wisdom of God’s holy Word at your disposal. Your pastor is trained to help you give a ready defense of your faith and confess Jesus boldly in a world that wants to ridicule and laugh at your believing in Jesus. When you have questions you can’t answer, go see your pastor. He’ll help you sort them out and answer them with God’s unfailing Word!
Holy Communion. Your parents try to keep up with your appetite by keeping the fridge full. Your health teacher tells you to watch what you eat so you stay healthy. And there’s always the appeal of grabbing some fast food with your friends. The Lord has given you a pastor to make sure you also eat regularly the food that gives eternal life. Your pastor wants to make sure you don’t miss out on the gift of eating and drinking Christ’s body and blood. Even when you’re young you can experience death. It might be a grandparent or younger family member. A friend dies from cancer or is killed in a car accident. Even if you think you are invincible you know that death is out there. And only one thing can overcome it, beat it, and defeat it. That’s Jesus who rose from the dead and who promises that in eating His body and blood He will live in you and you in Him and He will raise you up from the Last Day. In an uncertain world where anything can happen, when you worry about what your future holds, go see your pastor! He’ll give you the body and blood of Jesus as God’s own promise that you are taken care of now and forever.
There’s too many attacks on you from the devil, the world and your sinful nature for you not to need your pastor! He’s the one guy out there who isn’t there to judge you or condemn you but help and comfort you. He doesn’t do it with worldly wisdom or cheap psychology aimed at teenagers. No, he’s got something much better to help you. He’s got God’s Word. As a steward of Jesus’ gifts, your pastor is Jesus’ connection to you your whole life long and right now, too. So go and put your pastor to work. He’ll be glad you did. For after all, the Lord has called him to be a pastor for you!
Rev. Mark Buetow is pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church in Du Quoin, IL. He is also the Media Executive of Higher things.
Created: January 25th, 2012