Pastor Loehe died on 2 January 1872 at age 63. Following the traditional custom of the church of regarding what the world calls the date of death as the date of birth to eternity and commemorating its great models on those dates, our beloved synod commemorates him to-day.
I don't have a single profound thing to say about him. But he's right up there with Robert Barnes and CFW Walther on my list of Lutheran heroes. From what I can tell, I just gotta like this guy.
For one thing, his wife died after six years of marriage and he had four kids to raise by himself. I get that. Same thing happened to me after four years of marriage and two kids.
But that's not all. Like me, he was a convert.
He was real taken with our Confessions, and like people like that tend to be, was real taken with Lutheran liturgy, especially the mass, and making it central to parish life. Check.
He had a real concern to get this message out, not just get a message out, get this message out. Check. To the extent that some saw him as a little too rough, too combative, and too conservative. Double check.
This also seems to have run him afoul of church leaders. Check.
Yet he also had a concrete concern for physical as well as spiritual needs, not always found along with "conservatives". Check.
He was Bavarian. Well, sorta kinda. He was actually Franconian, however, Franconia (Franken) has been part of Bavaria since 1803 as Napoleon broke up the Holy Roman Empire, and King Ludwig of Bavaria re-established the old name in 1837, yet it remains a distinct cultural entity from historic Bavaria (Atlbayern). Loehe was born in Fuerth, Middle Franconia (Mittelfranken) and was stuck by his church in the little town of Neuendettelsau in the same region. Check -- hell, I'm not even German of any kind however I grew up in Minnesota and ended up at a university sponsored by a Benedictine abbey founded out of Abtei Metten in Bavaria with money from King Ludwig himself, with German still commonly heard at the time I was there.
But the big deal about him is not at all just that I like him. Confessional Lutheranism is always under threat of being watered down, and often from church bodies with "Lutheran" in the name or history. Happened to Loehe, happens to us. But when this guy's church body headed down a revisionist, unionist path, and banished him to the hinterlands for not being with it, he promoted liturgy and works of service with such a passion that its results endure over a century later on every inhabited continent. A little encouragement to those in his position now, even in the very synod he helped start here. And yeah, I just gotta like the guy and it encourages me to find people like him, confessionally regardless of background, behind our beloved synod and makes me feel at home.
A little footnote: Past Elder began -- all of this not by design, I wasn't thinking of it -- in blue and white, the colours of Bavaria, and is now red and white, the colours of Franconia.
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