Letter from the President

Dear Friends of the NALS,

The Rev. Dr. Eric Riesen

There is an original stanza from “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” that was, very unfortunately, removed from the Lutheran Book of Worship. You will understand why it was removed when you read it.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world hath suffered long,
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not the love song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.

Some evidently think that “man at war with man” was too exclusive. This, it seems to me, is a good case of simply missing the point. The point being that human beings — men and women — continue to cause war and strife because we will not or cannot, “hear the angels sing.”

Christmas asks for silence. In one of the apocryphal gospels, the writer imaginatively described the virginal conception of Jesus. The moment when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and “the power of the Most High” overshadowed her:

… a great silence descended with a great fear. For even the winds stopped, they made no breezes. There was no motion of the tree leaves, nor sound of water. The streams did not flow, there was no motion of the sea. All things in the ocean were silent, and no human voice was heard….time almost stopped its measure. All, overwhelmed with great fear, kept silent.

Luminous Dusk, Dale Allison

Christmas asks for silence. There are mysteries which cannot be easily articulated or logically defined. Yet, are still true. No dogmatic definitions of the incarnation do justice to the mystery. We stammer sheer mystery when we confess that our Lord Jesus is, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man” (the Nicene Creed). That’s a “mic drop” moment.

The North American Lutheran Seminary (NALS) forms men and women to listen to God’s Word. Then, after listening carefully we can preach faithfully.

Thank you for your support of the NALS. May God grant you a blessed and quiet Christmas. Quiet enough to hear angels sing.

Yours Sincerely in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Eric M. Riesen

Christmas 2022

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