From the Editor

From the Editor

To what has God “called” us as human beings? As Christians? What is the difference between vocation and occupation? What does it mean to receive a vocation to ministry? To marriage? To engineering? To public service? Is the ministerial vocation superior to others? How can vocation be costly? In our inaugural issue of Word & Sacrament, the Magazine of the North American Lutheran Seminary, we start where all pastors in the North American Lutheran Church must start, serve, and finish: with vocation.

And yet, as you will see in the reflections and stories that make up this issue of Word & Sacrament, the concept of vocation is not only related to those called into ministry. Vocation can refer to our basic human vocation to share “likeness” with God. This calling begins, of course, in Genesis 1:26 where we learn that God created man and woman according to His image and likeness. From their beginning, humans are called to be like their Maker. Vocation can also refer, as Luther famously advocated, to the vocation of living as a Christian in this world in such a manner that the love of God received in faith issues forth in love that makes Christ present to others by addressing their needs. This, of course, involves the Christian working with the gifts, talents, and opportunities with which God has blessed His people, collectively and as individuals. 

For those who receive a ministerial vocation, there are many questions regarding the path to serving. The seasons of ministry can elicit wonders and anxieties: Am I still fulfilling God’s call? What does it look like to transition out of full-time ministry? It is also crucial to remember that the vocation of the Christian happens not in a vacuum but in a world filled with alternative scales of value. Answering God’s call upon one’s life, whether as a minister or layperson, requires a steadfast resolve in the face of cultural, political, and often personal headwinds. Further still, it is not uncommon for those receiving a call to be assailed by the deception, distractions, and derailments that signify spiritual warfare.

We here at the NALS are grateful to have the wonderful opportunity of accompanying and playing a small role in the vocational discernment, training, and sending of pastors and leaders of the NALC by means of (1) robust spiritual formation, (2) rigorous and distinctive theological education, and (3) intentional pastoral mentorship. In addition to curricular seminary formation, we are excited to build partnerships with pastors carrying out their vocations and to provide avenues for ongoing theological formation. 

It is my sincere hope that the contents of Word & Sacrament will become a distinct and dependable source of encouragement and edification for clergy and lay persons within and without the North American Lutheran Church. As we look to build a shared conversation by means of this venue, I invite your suggestions for topics to consider in future issues, follow-up questions about what you read, and notifications of interest from potential contributors. Together, we can ensure that Word & Sacrament is indeed the magazine of the NALS for the NALC.

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Alexander H. Pierce
Assistant Professor of Historical Theology
Word & Sacrament Magazine