Dr Harold Ristau was the guest speaker at the Higher Things youth retreat at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Regina in February. He presented on the topic, “The Soldier’s Vocation and Luther’s Theology of the Two Kingdoms”. He spoke about the challenges of spiritual soldiering, and the ways in which the Lord equips us for the spiritual war that surrounds us all, as well as the unique challenges that “physical soldiers” face in combat (Christian members of the military). The Holy Bible, Book of Concord, and writings of Martin Luther led to some fruitful discussion around some tough but pertinent questions and hot topics amongst the 50 or so youth in attendance.
A breakaway session by a military and police chaplain Pastor D. J. Kim, in which he shared the challenge of applying Law and Gospel to the lives of police officers and gangsters, fit nicely into the theme. Dr Ristau encouraged the youth to consider checking out one of our synod’s two seminaries one day for more opportunities to study and discuss the Bible and theology.
After preaching at the two divine services on Sunday, and reflecting on the two-day event interspersed with liturgical worship and Gospel-centric preaching, as well as a some free time for hockey and board games, Ristau commented during the announcements: “I cannot imagine a better way for our youth to spend some of their winter vacation.” He took the opportunity to appeal to the congregation for prayers and funds on behalf of synod for the first Lutheran Church in Costa Rica.
Ristau also delivered an afternoon lecture and discussion to the circuit churches on “The Incarnational View of the Pastoral Office”, in which he contrasted the historical Lutheran understanding of the vocation of pastor with North American Protestant views, which view him in terms of leader, educator, motivator, etc., instead of as the gracious and hidden presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of the congregation. Discussion pivoted around the practical differences that a biblical view of the pastoral office makes for the Gospel, means of grace ministry, evangelism, and missions. Participants in the aforementioned events had a deeper appreciation for the relevance of theology for real life issues and Christian living.
CLTS faculty are ready and willing to serve similar events across Canada by request.