I wrote this article for our church’s newsletter called GOEL (Hebrew) for REDEEMER.
CALL DAY ONCE MORE
"And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I Am making all things new.' Also He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' And He said to me, ‘It is done! I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment'" (Revelation 21:5).
As I write this it is Tuesday afternoon and only mere hours before some men will receive their first calls to serve in our LCMS churches. These men have been preparing for the Office of the Holy ministry for the past four years. Tonight and tomorrow their names will be called and a manila envelope given them with a name of a District and congregation to whom they will go and be God's mouth-piece in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I remember vividly how it was for me in April of 1994 just before I got my call. For about two weeks there was excitement in the air. Many of my family members had traveled thousands of miles to come and be a part of this special night, in my life and theirs. It was a special night that I can still replay in my mind all of the events that led to the call.
At the Divine Service on April 27, my name was called, Nabil Subhi Nour, South Dakota District, heading to Armour, SD. What excitement! I am going back home to SD and will be close to our families.
On my way to my seat, my oldest son Tony, reached for the manila envelope and took it from my hand and I never saw it till late that night. But by the time I had gotten home, my family knew a lot of information about the town of Armour and the congregation of Redeemer Lutheran Church to which I had been called.
In a very real way, this is call day all over again for me. For the past 113 days, I have been out of the office convalescing from my two surgeries. The first one was scheduled and the second emergency.
But through these surgeries, trials and suffering the Lord has taught me patience and dependence upon Him even more. I have spent more time reading the Bible in depth and praying more fervently. This experience also made me aware of how long the journey of suffering is at times. I have learned to be more kind, compassionate and merciful to those who are experiencing hardships and afflictions.
Through these surgeries and recovery I have changed–hopefully for the better. I remember the first change from Nabil the painter to Nabil the pastor. But there is more, I am keenly aware of the joy and privilege the Lord has given me through this call to proclaim His life-giving Word.
In a true sense, this is CALL DAY ONCE MORE. Now, I get to stand before God's beloved saints and share with them the well spring of water, word, wine and wafer. I get to share with YOU the love of Jesus who endured all things for our sake. I am privileged to share the hope of the resurrection with YOU and fill YOU with His Gospel message. Once more, I will be taking up rod and staff and leading the Sheep of the Great Shepherd to His green pastures. This dear family of faith has stood by me, with me, ah, now that is church!
What a privilege to be called the first time to be your pastor. What a blessed to be called again after having a new heart placed not by Dr. Steve Feldhaus (though he performed the surgery) but the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ through the water and Word changed my heart to follow Him and live for Him.
Thank you for calling me to be your pastor. I assure you that I have prayed for you as you have prayed for me. And now I am so excited at the honor and blessing to begin serving you anew.
I share with you few words written by the President of the St. Louis Seminary, Dr. Dale Meyer on May 1st, call night.
"Last in, first out." That's one of the perks of being Seminary president. Today is "Call Day" when our students learn where the church is sending them. The announcements happen in a festive service, joyous but anxious for students and their families, and the presidential perk is that I'm the last one to process in for the service but the first one to recess out. When I walk out, I head straight up to the balcony so that I can watch the students, calls in hand, walk out two-by-two.
They are going into a world they do not know and into experiences they cannot imagine. Some go with maturity; others have maturing ahead of them. Their average age is about 32. Some are A+ students but will need to learn better interpersonal skills. Others may not be good at parsing Greek or Hebrew but do have emotional intelligence, a characteristic of a good pastor...
"Last in; first out" also happens to be the goal of people who go to church grudgingly. May these new pastors keep walking, walking in their communities, walking among their people, so that when Sunday comes more and more people will say, "I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!'" (Psalm 122:1)
"Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
That is my prayer for these young men and myself as I resume my ministry once more among you and with you.
In Christ's love and in His service,
Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor and Foot Washer Phil. 1:6