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fatherhamelThis is from Hans Fiene, a Lutheran Pastor in Illinois, writing for The Federalist.

“What is a pastor’s job?” When you don’t know the answer to this question, it’s hard to understand why agents of ISIS would want to murder an 84-year-old priest. Sure, ISIS enjoys terrorizing people at random. But why target such a small group of people when larger crowds were available all over Normandy?

Sure, ISIS wants to conquer the world, but how much earthly glory could they possibly gain by taking the life of a frail octogenarian? When you don’t fully understand what God called Father Jacques Hamel to do, the answers to these questions don’t come easily.

Some people grew up in churches with Pastor Dweeb, who walked into the pulpit each week to tell us, golly-gee, how great it was that we are all so nice to each other and, gee-golly-gosh, how happy Jesus would be if we could all try being just a little bit nicer from now on. Every Sunday, Pastor Dweeb gave people the impression that a sermon was nothing but a slightly churchier version of your mom’s annual “I love you all, now please get along” Thanksgiving dinner toast. […]

Others grew up in churches with Pastor Hip, who bounced around an altar-less stage while singing promises of financial abundance and victorious living. Pastor Hip taught Christ’s sheep that a pastor’s job was to be a prosperity guru, to be the guy who uses Jesus-words to propel us down the path of health, wealth, and happiness.

Still others had their understanding of a pastor’s job formed by Pastor Justice, who would praise Jesus as a social reformer, rattle off a list of contemporary societal ills, and then implore his people to follow Christ’s example and tear down the institutions of oppression—in all of this, teaching his hearers that a pastor’s job is to sic Christian soldiers on the purveyors of modern injustice. For those who believe these teachings, it’s hard to understand why ISIS would look past bigger targets to silence the voice of a man who was simply telling people how they could end their own poverty or the poverty of their neighbors. […]

Father Hamel Was Murdered Because of His Confession

But despite the false impressions given by Pastors Dweeb, Hip, and Justice, Martin Luther’s Small Catechism offers a far more biblical answer to the question “What is a pastor’s job?” Speaking about the office of the keys, the catechism states, “the Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.”

What is a pastor’s job? His job is to exercise the office of the keys. His job is to do what Christ commanded in John 20, to show those who won’t repent their need for forgiveness, and to say to those who fear God’s judgment, “Fear not, because God has now covered you in the sin-killing blood of His Son and judged you to be worthy of eternal life.”

A pastor’s job is to stand before Christ’s bride, the church, and speak the words Christ has put onto his lips: words of pardon, words of mercy, words that cast out fear, because those words cover us in the perfect love Christ made manifest on the cross. Whether his parishioners call him father, reverend, or any other title, forgiving sins is what Christ has called all pastors to do. That’s why Father Jacques Hamel was murdered by apparent agents of ISIS on Tuesday morning.

via: No Matter How Many Priests ISIS Kills, They Can’t Win Do read the full article.

Yup, I’ve had Pastor Dweeb, Pastor Hip, and Pastor Justice, over the course of my life. Some of them I liked, some I didn’t, and they have much to do with why I left the church for a few (too many, really) years. I suspect many of us have similar stories.

But I’ve also had the Pastor with the keys, and it has shaped me, and my outlook on many things. We often say that we are in the world, but not of it. Is that so? Really? Do we worship the Christ and Him crucified, or do we worship the ‘gods of the marketplace’, with all their shiny baubles? Yes, of course, we all fail often, that is why we confess, to our pastor, or to our God, often if we are wise.

Chalcedon is wont to speak of people who know the price of everything, and the value of nothing, he’s correct, nothing in this world is worth selling your soul for, and that is what many of our people do, although, with the first three pastors spoken of above, they may not even know they are. That is a terrible surprise coming for them, and even more for those so-called pastors who are responsible for their ignorance.

To fulfill the final task of his job, all he’d need to do was look at the sheep he’d forgiven throughout the years and tell them, “Don’t be afraid. These men have come here to take our lives, but they’re too late. Our lives already belong to Christ.”

Rest in Peace, Father Hamel, your job here is done, and your work lives on.