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Church, its time to end the pity party!

Tomb Empty With Shroud And Crucifixion At Sunrise - ResurrectionDevotional Thought of The Day:

20  But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21  and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22  And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23  Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Jude 1:20-23 (NLT2)

When we say ‘God’ we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent.… Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us?

This damage is so unspeakable that it may not be recognized by a rational process, but only from God’s Word.  10 No one except God alone can separate the corruption of our nature from the nature itself. This will take place wholly by way of death in the resurrection.

Over the last few days, I have seen more and more lamenting (okay, complaining) by the people of God in American. Oh no! Tthe government is stopping us from gathering. Oh no! We have to sue because the government has banned singing. Oh no! Churches are being vandalized,  we must defend “our” churches. People are wondering if the end times are here.

It is as if we believe the pandemic has put an end to the Great Commission, or that it has put on pause the commandments to “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.”  that the church should just hunker down, go on defense and wait for the pandemic to end.

I am as guilty of this as any… but it is time to stop.

As I prepared a devotion on Jude’s letter to the church for this morning, I was struck by the context. There was a demonic attack on the church, there were false teachers, and scoffers who mocked the gospel and those who trusted in God. They dealt with famine and plague. They were dealing with real persecution, as people were killed if they didn’t dismiss God. Even Michael the Archangel was remembered, and how he depended on Jesus, more than on his own prowess.

Tough times the early church.

So we are not the first!

God read Jude’s next words to the church above again.  Seriously, go re-read it.

In the midst of all those challenges, God says minister to each other and to the world!

Help strengthen each other’s faith. Show mercy and help those whose faith is wavering, who are struggling to depend on God, show that compassion and care to people who are so pressed by the times that they aren’t sure He exists!  They need us, really we all need each other.

He also mentions rescuing people who are close to being judged, whose idolatry and sin are drawing them to condemnation. In the midst of all the trauma they were facing, all the spiritual warfare, Jude calls the church to be the church, to be the place where broken and sinful people find help and compassion, and mercy.

This si the time for the church to act, for you and I to take seriously a call to action. Not to defend the church, but to be the church, blessing the world.  Luther notes the damage of sin s so horrible we cannot even see it, unless God exposes it. and if that is true, so the rest, that only in God can we find hope. That is the hope the Catholic Catechism speaks of, that it talks about confessing.

This is the hope people need, so desperately, a hope that we can be there to share with them, even over 6 feet of distance.

This is our time, the time for us, as the people of God, to be the light that is needed.

it is not time to sit and pity ourselves.

Heavenly Father, Your works through men are glorious, so glorious that the people become etched in our memories. Lord help us in this time of the coronavirus, empowering us to encourage those whose faith is weak, to reach out and show mercy to those who are unaware of it, and live lives dominated by sin, shame, and guilt. Lord, Help us to be your people, those who are being healed in Jesus while helping others heal. 

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 506.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 467.

Sermon Series: Let Us Every Walk With Jesus – Are YOU ready?

Let Us ever walk with Jesus!
Are You Ready?

Luke 14:25-35

Jesus, Son, Savior

May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ draw you into this journey, knowing He is there with you!

Don’t go it alone!

In my “down time” I am reading an interesting set of books.  The main character is a retired army officer, who has volunteered to work with the British.  It was at the time they are forming the first commando units in World War II, the kind of group the old show Rat Patrol was based upon.  It is interesting because of the 10 rules that Colonel Randal set up for his raiders.

I like a couple -especially the first

Rule 1:  The first rule is there ain’t no rules

Rule 2:  Keep it short and simple

Rule 4:  Right man ( or woman), right job

Rule 6.  It is good to have a plan B

Rule 7:  Expect the unexpected

It was because of rule 7 that the unofficial rule 8 was born – never go out alone.  So whether it was a mission of one of his jeep teams, or his special sea going raiders on motor boats, or missions to drop paratroops or supplies, no jeep, boat or plane every went out alone.

And that is true today for us as well.  We can’t go out into the world on our own, for there is a spiritual battle which will destroy us if we try.

That is why our sermon series for this fall is based on the hymn we are about to sing, Let us ever walk with Jesus.  It is why Sunday School is about Joining Jesus on His mission, and why Wednesday Night will be about seeing who God has revealed Himself to be, because we can’t survive on our own,

God’s honesty…is scary…

That is what the reading from Luke’s gospel talks about this morning, this invitation to be with God on the journey of our lives.  Allowing Him to disciple that and all that He commits to, when God makes a disciple.  That commitment is a 24/7 commitment on God’s part!  He is responsible to

Teach you

Guide you through problems
comforting you

Provide for you

Help you heal

Fix the things you break… including yourself

Those are all the things God will do and more, doing what you need Him to do, what He sees all you need!  And He makes it happen. For those who make the decision and endure it, those who are willing to give up everything,

I always read this passage as God is asking so much of us. To potentially give up family and friends, to consider how much having a relationship with Jesus could cost you.

Part of me wants to say, Lord, that is too much!

How can you expect us to give up everything?

Are you ready to give it all up?

Have you counted the cost?

Rule 7

Remember rule 7?  Expect the unexpected?
That’s what God has done, the unexpected.

You see when Jesus told us to give up everything, when He told us to count the cost before we followed Him, he wasn’t talking hypothetically. He wasn’t fooling around either. That is what He expects, when we

It is not easy walking with Christ throughout life.  It may require great sacrifice, it may result in family not understanding, and even abandoning you. But that is what Jesus himself did, in order to invite you to journey through life, into the afterlife, with Him guiding you, teaching you, comforting you, making sure you get there.

He has saved us. But to do so, Jesus gave up everything in order that we could walk through life with Him.  Philippians 2 is clear, He gave up heaven to come and dwell with us, and to let us put him to death, and that death was on the cross.

He counted the cost as well, knowing that a sinless sacrifice for our sin would need to be paid. He knew the amount of sin we would commit. He knew that he would bear God’s wrath for it all, He knew the anguish, physical, mental, spiritual anguish,

He did the unexpected, he took it all, so we could be His disciples, His friends.

This is why we walk with Him, God loves us this much,  Despite our sin, for He chose to die for us while we were sinning.

He restores us as we confess our sins, forgiving all of it.

He remembers the promises made in our baptism,

He nourishes us at His feast, even as He looks forward as much as we do to the feast that will be our welcome to heaven.

This is God, who gives it all up for you…

Let us ever walk with Him


Unity of the Church, Seen in the Ministry of Reconciling People to Jesus…

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day

11   (He, Jesus) filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher 12  to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, 13  until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (MSG)

2. The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ. (1)

The person who wants only the God whom he has invented for himself—how is he to be certain that there is a God, how is he to love one who never answers him? But God has come to meet us in our groping search. He speaks to us in the community of faith, he challenges us, he lives among us. That know-it-all pride that wants to put itself above the Faith of the Church and her living community inevitably ends in an aversion for God and for itself. In the community that God himself has formed and that comes to us from his love, he can be loved in return. It need hardly be said, then, that love of God is never a private relationship between me and him who is both mystery and eternity. The community that he created includes me; hence this love is returned to it and transcends it because God wants to unite all of us in a single city of eternal peace  (2)

7 Moreover, the people are instructed often and with great diligence concerning the holy sacrament, why it was instituted, and how it is to be used (namely, as a comfort for terrified consciences) in order that the people may be drawn to the Communion and Mass. The people are also given instruction about other false teachings concerning the sacrament.
2 Meanwhile no conspicuous changes have been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass, except that in certain places German hymns are sung in addition to the Latin responses for the instruction and exercise of the people.
3 After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ  (3)

I’ve been thinking a lot of the differences in the churches recently. I hate the divisions that exist in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church we confess in the creeds. .Even as I respect the people who take the division seriously, and lament it, even as they recognize the need for it.   (that is another blog… we can’t simply dismiss the differences)

One of the things we do agree on, is the need of people to know Jesus, not just to know of Him, but to know Him.  Which means being drawn to Him, to find Him in the midst of His people, the life of Christ into which we are called is lined in the community of faith.

Both Vatican II and the Lutheran Confessions agree on this, as would most pastors, even if we don’t agree on what the church looks like, the need of Jesus’ involvement in people’s lives is their greatest need. 

For knowing Christ brings joy, even as it removes all guilt and shame.  Knowing Him means that our brokenness is being healed, that our lives have meaning that extends beyond this moment.  The mission, the apostolate that God entrusts to us is incredible.

Incredible because of the change that occurs in the life of the disciple.

Incredible because of the trust God places in us.

Incredible in view of the unity we find with each other, as we find ourselves in God’s presence. In His finding us, we end up finding each other….and as we see people come to know God’s mercy, they become part of His people. That we are being bound together in Him extends over all other things that could divide us, even as we struggle (or should struggle) to see those things settled, not as compromises, but as brothers with one goal – being in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, the hope of unity is there… because He is.

Lord, bring you church together, reveal to us that we are one, even as you and the Father are one.  Lord have mercy upon us.  AMEN..

 

(1)  Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: Apostolicam Actuositatem. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 226). San Francisco: Ignatius Press

(2)   Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 226). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
(3)
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 56). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

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