Some years down the road, God willing, we in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod will be looking back on this day, remembering where we were when Rev. Matthew Harrison was elected thirteenth president of the LCMS and sharing our memories of that pivotal moment when our church body was plucked off the slope of dissolution and placed on the path of healing.
So, let's practice. Here's my story. After a morning of leading music at Vacation Bible School, I returned home and had lunch with my children. I did a few chores and then shortly before the presidential election was scheduled to begin settled down in front of the computer to watch the live stream of the convention. I could hardly sit still. My hands were shaking, my stomach jumping. I closed my eyes, put my face in my hands, and said a whispered prayer. Then the phone rang. It was my husband, who is not a delegate but is attending the convention for the purpose of observing, reporting, disseminating information, and assisting the confessional effort in whatever way he can.
I didn't have to look at the caller I.D. to know it was him. I picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Are you watching?"
As soon as I heard his voice I started to cry.
"Yes," I replied, my voice catching.
"Are you praying?"
"Okay, it's time."
I realized as I heard the proceedings coming through my phone that the "live" stream was actually not live but a few seconds behind. So I turned down the volume on my computer and waited for my husband to break the news.
"They're voting," he said. "Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy."
Silence, as we waited for the end of the 8-second voting window.
Then . . .
"And Harrison wins! The next president of the LCMS is Matt Harrison!" This wasn't shouted. My husband was in the convention hall and restraint was called for. But I knew he was shouting with joy on the inside.
I couldn't believe it. "Really? He won?" Sobbing, I ran to the top of the stairs, phone still in hand, and called my son. "TREVOR! Pastor Harrison won!" (I would have called my teenage daughter, too, but she was at a friend's house for the afternoon.)
Trevor joined me upstairs and we sat together at my laptop, watching and waiting as our president-elect made his way towards the podium with his wife. As Trevor hugged me, I said a quick goodbye to my husband with a promise to talk later, and Trevor and I watched this incredible acceptance speech (speech begins at the 3-minute mark):
If that speech is any indication of the seriousness, humility, and cross-focused leadership that President Harrison intends to bring to his new calling, we may actually be able to chart that course for unifying our fractured synod. May God bless the LCMS and its new shepherd, Rev. Matthew Harrison, and may all of us who have been saying "It's Time" for these last many months now be willing to tell one another to "Take Time" as we turn our eyes to the future and watch and pray for healing.
So, what were you doing on July 13, 2010, at 2:42 p.m.?