Over 800 youth, pastors, and adult chaperones blended their voices in singing Luther’s great hymn, A Mighty Fortress, in St. Francis Xavier College Church on the campus of Saint Louis University. The soaring gothic architecture, beautiful stained glass, statues of our Lord, and of course Higher Things’ processional crucifix were a feast for the eyes, while the organ, trumpet, and voices carried the Word into our ears. Thus began our four days of worship, work, and play at Amen, the 2008 HT conference.
As I was caught up in the moment, I looked throughout the church, taking it all in. My eyes fell on Pastor George Borghardt, who would be preaching; and it struck me. He was grinning! I could already hear his thoughts: “Gift Received! Amen!” Certainly the most important Gift is Christ – born, dead, and resurrected for you – “Gift Received! Amen!” The gift of singing the Gospel of the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation” in a Jesuit nave and chancel is joyous too. “Gift Received! Amen!” The gift of such skilled music from instruments, directors, choir, and attendees was thrilling! “Gift Received! Amen!” The gift of skilled preaching of the pure Gospel is precious. “Gift Received! Amen!”
Watching Pastor Borghardt was almost as enjoyable as hearing his fine sermon (which will be published soon – keep watching for that Higher Homily.) In that moment, there was a “visual” of our reason for gathering for Higher Things conferences. The Word is given. We respond with a joyful “Amen!” of prayer and praise. Tonight and tomorrow have times for individual confession and Holy Absolution, with a humble, “Gift Received! Amen!” On Thursday we shall receive the Lord’s holy and precious Body and Blood. And again, “Gift Received! Amen!”
Indeed! Grin with Pastor Borghardt! There is much joy in the Gospel that Jesus’ “Amen” has brought you forgiveness, peace, and mercy. And now He continues to gift you with faith and its response: “Amen!”