‘Colloquized’ – what sort of title is that? Is that even a word? (and my favorite Lutheran question…) “What does that mean?” As you look at my one-word title, those must be the kinds of questions you are asking. It is, or rather was a word out of our church body. It has since been replaced with more modern terminology.
But the word was important to me because I was asked, a number of years ago, to lead a member of my previous church through our synod’s “teacher colloquy” program. It is a program where an established teacher, and a (usually) lifelong LC-MS member can apply to become a certified teacher in our church body, without having to start the process of getting into an educational degree program all over again. The person in question had to take a number of on-line classes – many of them dealing with theology. And once a month, she was required to meet with her pastor about progress, spiritual growth, theological application and more.
In my years of ministry, I have only “colloquized” one student. She became a teacher at the school in my previous congregation, and has been a synod-certified teacher for about ten years now. Our monthly meetings were always as informative and useful to me as they were to her. And considering that this lady had been friends with my wife years before the process even began didn’t hurt matters any.
Why does any of this matter? On Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend, I was given the shocking news that she had been granted eternal life that day – just shy of her 50th birthday. Only 5½ weeks earlier, she had been diagnosed with cancer. She had only stopped teaching in what turned out to be the last two weeks of her life. Her youngest daughter was graduating from the area high school that same weekend.
Needless to say, several former members reached out to me during this time of grief and shock. Yes, even Christians with strong faith have it shaken pretty severely at a time like this. But my answer to them was to remind them that even as this lady was, shall we say transitioned (colloquized) from teacher to Lutheran teacher with a daily opportunity to share the faith given to her in the waters of Holy Baptism, so also was she – AND WE, transitioned from children of this world to children of God.
Yes, it begins with baptism, but it hardly ends there. Each of us who have been given such faith, now have a daily opportunity to share it. And even if we are not in such a position as a Lutheran teacher might be, we still have doors that God opens for us to let what is truly GOOD NEWS be known to so many who do not have it and need it.
For as this tragedy shows, we only have a small window (sometimes, too small by human standards) to do the work God has blessed, gifted and privileged us to do.
Two more things about this. First is the final advice I gave, both to the parents and all my former grieving members. Wrap your arms around your family every day, and make sure you tell them how important the faith is to you and needs to be to them. And give thanks to God EACH DAY for giving us family, and the privilege of being a part of HIS family – the family of faith, that gets to live in that faith each day.
Second is what I posted to all of God’s people on FACEBOOK about this death. It is the Scripture passage I share at the end of each of my communications (including this one). I share it with you now also: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gives us His eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts as the Lord of peace Himself gives you His eternal peace at all times and in every way. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
PEACE TO YOU!
II Thessalonians 2:16-17; 3:16, 18