February, 2013 – A Seminarian’s Letters Home

To the membership of Trinity and Waverly Lutheran Churches:

Greetings to you all from Pennsylvania! January 6 has come and gone. From here on, we are going our separate ways. After worshiping together, lifting up the relationship our congregations have shared for many years, we are now following different paths into the wilderness of the unknown. Much will change. It is good to take a bit to breathe deeply before stepping out.

On Transfiguration Sunday, a traditional hymn to end worship is “Alleluia, Song of Gladness.” We do not sing or say alleluia during the forty days of Lent, as the words of this hymn remind us. We cannot always sing the song of resurrection and joy, sinners that we are. For six weeks each year, we say farewell that word and its spirit, and follow Jesus into the wilderness. We long for cool water to refresh us. We long for our homeland, for the realization of our hopes and dreams. But it is not there yet. It will come, though. It will come in the healing waters of baptism and the joyful shouts of “Christ is risen, alleluia!” on Easter morning.

As we journey onward, parting ways and going into the new worlds to which God has called us, we will face many times when we think that there is nothing but desert, that our hopes will go unsatisfied. But let us journey onward, knowing that Christ will bring us through to the abundant feast and limitless fountain of eternal joy. As we part here, let our last words to each other as a parish be a prayer for God’s blessing, using these words:

O God, in the transfiguration of your Son you confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the witness of Moses and Elijah, and in the voice from the bright cloud declaring Jesus your beloved Son, you foreshadowed our adoption as your children. Make us heirs with Christ of your glory, and bring us to enjoy its fullness, through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. [ELW, Transfiguration Sunday]

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Your fellow member and pilgrim,
Carl P. Rabbe
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia