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Pastor and wife appreciation month

Author James Pope
Rev. James Pope, executive editor of Forward in Christ

Praise Martin Luther? No, praise the Lord! Praise the Lord for what he accomplished through reformers like Martin Luther.

In our praise to the Lord, it is common and appropriate to focus attention on Luther during the month of October. After all, Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517, marked the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation.

Tim Grundmeier’s article about Johannes Bugenhagen, Martin Luther’s pastor and confessor, illustrates praise to the Lord for another person who served him faithfully. As you read, Bugenhagen officiated at Luther’s wedding to Katherina (Katie) von Bora. In addition, after Luther’s death, Bugenhagen provided care for Katie and her children.

Katie is yet one more individual who provides reason for praise to the Lord. Talk about drama in life! She was a runaway nun, and her husband’s life was in danger throughout their almost 21-year marriage because Rome had declared him an outlaw. She never really knew if her husband would return home safely from a trip. And when he did return home at the end of any day, she never knew how many unexpected friends and acquaintances he might be bringing with him for supper.

But through it all, Katie displayed Christian faith and godly attributes. Her resolve kept the household intact during her husband’s many absences. Her bold personality shook the reformer out of his frequent doldrums. She was a faithful pastor’s wife and a blessing from the Lord.

There is no connection to the Reformation of which I am aware, but for some time October has been designated as Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s a special time to praise the Lord for faithful ministers of the Word. With Katie Luther in mind, may I suggest an additional designation for October? How about Pastor and Wife Appreciation Month?

There are good reasons for that addition. The role of a pastor’s wife is challenging. Privacy can be a concern, as her family always seems to be on display—especially at church. The bar is set high for the behavior of her children. Isolation can set in, as close friendships within the congregation may not always be possible. At home, the hours of her husband’s workweek often can create extra responsibilities for her. And when her husband does come home, he may not be very engaged in conversation, as he just experienced confidential counseling matters he is not able to share with her. They only exchange concerned looks in their eyes.

The wife of a pastor may find herself and her family relocating again and again across the country or throughout the world. Certainly, she and her husband prayerfully discussed the calls he received and so the moves came as no surprise, but moving away from everything and everyone familiar can be unsettling.

Through it all, though, the wife of a pastor supports her husband. She encourages him when people are not happy with his ministry. She reminds him that what’s all-important is faithfulness and not results. She silently cheers him on from her place in the pew.

“I would not want to exchange my Kate for France nor for Venice to boot . . . because God has given her to me and me to her . . . because she keeps faith and honor in our marriage relation” (What Luther Says, Vol. 2, p. 888). That’s how Martin Luther viewed his wife. She was a cherished part of his life and ministry. A pastor’s wife today has the same significance.

So let’s praise the Lord for faithful reformers like Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen. Let’s praise the Lord for faithful pastors. Let’s praise the Lord for the faithful wives of pastors.

Author: James Pope
Volume 110, Number 10
Issue: October 2023

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  • James F. Pope

    James Pope brings a variety of experiences to his ministry at Forward in Christ, including serving parishes in Wisconsin and Florida; teaching history, theology, and staff ministry courses at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn.; serving as the “Light for our path” columnist for FIC from 2014–2019; and answering theological questions submitted to the WELS website from 2014–2021.

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This entry is part 11 of 17 in the series before-you-go

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