The Big Purple Dinosaur Promise

I was sent the following by a brother pastor. It was used at the Call service at St. Louis. He thinks it was driven by the candidates not the faculty. If so they’re probably not ready for their first Calls.


L: Brothers: We have now been called as pastors of Christ’s church to live together,

struggle together, rejoice together, forgive one another, and serve His kingdom

together, with the assistance of Christ himself. I now ask you before God, each other,

and all those here and listening online:

 L: Do you promise to treat each other and every brother pastor with respect, patience, and loving care and concern? If so, say “I promise.”

Candidates: I promise.

L: Do you promise to be willing to seek unity, brotherly love, forgiveness, and harmony

between brother pastors for the sake of the Gospel? If so, say “I promise.”

Candidates: I promise.

L: Do you promise to seek understanding in conflict, pray for the unity of faith, and

explain everything in the kindest possible way? If so, say “I promise.”

Candidates: I promise.

L: Do you promise to live in humility, being willing to be held accountable to this promise by your brothers standing here with you? If so, say “I promise.”

Candidates: I promise.

L: Do you promise to faithfully encourage your brothers standing here to be accountable 

to this promise? If so, say “I promise, with the help of God.”

Candidates: I promise, with the help of God.

Candidates: God enable us to will and to do this according to His good pleasure. Amen

First, I’m tickled that they address those listening online.  That’s like the televangelist speaking to the viewer. I also think the last line is funny.  Any one who has done liturgical rites know it’s the person officiating who says the last line. It should start out with “may” for grammatical reasons, but something tells me whoever wrote this was one or two prepositional phrases short of a full English department.  It’s the person administering the “Covenant” – how un-Lutheran of a concept can you get? – who says, “May God enable you to do this according to His good pleasure.”  Then the one’s making the promise say, “Amen.”

Even if these things were changed, I would still be opposed to it and Tommy James revealed to me why. In Tommy James’ autobiography, he speaks of a practice of the 60s which I remember endured to at least the early 70s.  No one else I’ve mentioned it to remembers the practice. It turns out it might have been confined to the Midwest or maybe even just the great state of Michigan.  Tommy grew up in Niles, Michigan. How many great rock and soul singers have! It’s in the water.

I digress. Tommy mentioned the practice of pearling.  That’s where a guy gave his girl a pearl. It was called pearling. This was not an engagement ring but it was the token of the promise that you were going to ask her.  It was a promise about a future promise.  This is neither meet, right, salutary, wise, nor proper. Particularly in the area of theology. Especially, when it’s in response to the current political regime’s theme song.

Our greatest problem is not that we don’t treat each other like brothers, but that we don’t talk and listen to each other like men.  Our greatest problem is not that we lack a covenant to live, work, and love together by; our greatest problem is that we don’t listen to God’s promises in the Means of Grace or keep our ordination vows. Our greatest problem is not that we don’t speak the truth in love but that we don’t speak the truth enough.

“Remember the Sabbath Day” was not enough for the Pharisees so they invented hundreds of more laws to prevent them from breaking the Sabbath. They built a wall of laws around the Law. That didn’t work for them, and it won’t work for these latest seminary graduates either. But, hey, it feels, looks, and sounds good.  Like changing circuit counselor to circuit visitor and the LCMS, INC. logo from dragoon maroon to crystal blue persuasion.

We’re no closer to koinonia now than we were 4 years ago.  We are, however, closer to Barney fellowship. Those newly covenanted together candidates are the generation raised on me loving you and you loving me and we being one big family. That’s it! This will from henceforth be called the Barney Promise or to avoid copyright issues the Big Purple Dinosaur Promise.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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