The Pastor's Perch

RSS Feed

Unity in Christ

June takes us into the world of the Pentecost Church and true unity. 

God unites His Church: Pentecost, where the Spirit is given to people who are gathered together. (Acts 2:1-21)

Holy Trinity, where a common confession of the Triune God unites the Church. (Acts 2:22-36; John 8:48-59)

Forgiveness, where the divisions and walls that kept us apart from God and flattened by Jesus' death and resurrection, and we have access to grace and mercy.  (Luke 8:26-39)

Love of God, which unites us in serving one another, which is the response of grateful, forgiven people. (Galatians 5:1, 13-25)

Heavenly Father, as You sent the Holy Spirit to Your people, so they could tell of the works of Christ Jesus, so give us of the same Spirit and send us or send to us those who have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Amen.

The Reach

Often I wish I were able to contact everyone in our congregation, be it text, phone, email, Facebook, etc. I do not like intermediaries or indirect contact. I prefer to visit face to face. Covid limited some of that, but now, unless things change, I have the ability to visit anybody. The problem is not will, but flesh. And the fact that everyone is getting out as much as possible. 

Of much trouble, out and about are the people, so hard it is finding them. ~ Yoda.

I even have a new path to tracking down all of our members, but that lies in the future, past a voters' meeting, new leadership and the same old needs of an aging congregation. I cannot get it all done like I used to. Wretched man I am. I have to claim with Paul that I am inadequate for the task, weak and ill. 

Thanks be to God that He is in charge of His people, His Church, and not fragile humans--with the exception of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, Who is the God Who shows up, and is the Great Physician, the Good Shepherd and the Savior of the world!

2 Corinthians 12:9¬†But he said to me, ‚ÄúMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.‚ÄĚ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10¬†For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Ascension Day

Perched between the Sixth and Seventh Sunday of Easter, the Ascension of Christ is positioned right before Pentecost and that long season. It comes so late in the Easter season because it commemorates Christ's bodily Ascension into Heaven on the 40th day following Easter, a Thursday always. 

Because it is our congregation;s name, we have celebrated this wonderful, necessary event, both on weekdays and on the Sunday following the commemoration. This year, we will celebrate on what would have been the Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 29, 2022. We do this not just because of tradition but also because of the hope we have in us. 

Jesus' bodily resurrection means His sacrifice for us is complete, it is accepted by His Father. And His bodily Ascension into heaven means that His earthly ministry is fulfilled, and He sends the Holy Spirit ten days later on Pentecost. 

And what happens to Christ will happen to us: we will die, but rise. And on the Day of His bodily return, He will make new from what was old--He will recreate us with new, indestructible bodies, and we will live forever in the New Earth as physical, spiritual people. 

21 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 

Animals in Heaven; Pets in Paradise

A dear friend of mine, a Lutheran pastor, wrote a Bible Study on the above topic. I even used some of his materials to present a one-day, multi-generational class--from very young children to elderly folks--so that the maximum comfort we are assured as God's children in Jesus is also extended to His wonderful creation. When Jesus returns to make all things new that includes the birds and the bees--in other words, all the rest of creation that was subjected to the curse following the fall into sin. Praise the LORD!

If you want to hear all the world praising God, read aloud the following Psalm:

148 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his hosts!                                 ["With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven..."]]

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!              [The heavenly bodies praise Him]

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,          [Animals Praise Him]
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!                        [Even the weather praises Him]

9 Mountains and all hills,                                   [Plants praise Him]
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
    creeping things and flying birds!                    [More animals praise Him]

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
    old men and children!                                    [And the people on earth praise Him also]

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his saints,
    for the people of Israel who are near to him. [All those in Christ are in the Church, the New Israel]
Praise the Lord!

Wokeness

You have heard of wokeness. It pits the "Wokes" against the others. It is supposed to bring to more awareness the inequality and racist privilege. On the surface, that is a good move. But underneath this is the iceberg that threatens to sink itself due to the additions of other groups co-opting this movement. Wokeness also implies that those not in the club are asleep, deluded or wrong. This judgement forms a dividing line, forcing the other side to become defensive and further entrenching the debate. Who wants to be awakened by the Woke if all it means is prodding to action or reaction?

There will be no end of these groups adding to their list of their grievances, until nobody is left untouched. Loving our neighbor is one way to reach people, but love is also tough and our Lord Jesus does not merely say that love tolerates what is forbidden. If people say they have no sin or that they do not sin, they lie and the truth is not in them. But as we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, through the blood of Christ Jesus. 

We should awake to the fact that we are sinners who sin daily and we need a Savior daily. We need a Savior Who is more than merely woke; we need One who assures us that all our debt of sin is paid--but the sins that are called sins are ones He has called sins, not the opinions of mere people, whose talk is toxic and actually labels what Jesus says as wrong. I will not go into each sin, but know this: Jesus is the only One qualified to call sin for what it is: a transgression of God's Holy Law. Thanks be to God, He does not just leave us there, but assures us that for Christ's sake, we are forgiven and loved. That is not an opinion but a fact from God in Christ.

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

[8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Remember What He told You

The angels at the tomb confronted the women, who were also Jesus' disciples, and told them to remember what Jesus told them when they were at Galilee: Jesus would be given into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day, He would rise. And the women remembered, went and told the hiding apostles and other disciples, and...were seen as crazy talking about a bodily resurrection. People do not rise from the dead. But this Man does. Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to so many people over the time He had until His ascension. At one place over 500 people witnesses Him risen. Because of the plethora of manuscripts, the care and patience of the Gospel writers, and the reliability of the witnesses, Jesus' bodily resurrection is an historical fact that survives the ancient world to now. With other persons of the ancient past, maybe one or two accounts give us a picture into their life and times, but with Jesus, we have too many witnesses to ignore. But ignorance seems to rule the day, so people will believe what they want to believe. We have a Savior, risen from the dead, Who is with His followers always. And we walk in this reality:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 

Jesus, Remember Me

The words from the thief on the cross. "Jesus, remember me." What do you want Jesus to remember about you? That you were so faithful, so good, doing all things well? That you tried hard, but could not quite get it right? Maybe you do not want Him to remember you because you remember what you are like and what you have done. 

So many people would rather God would forget about them and just not even look at them. 

But. 

A thief. 

On a cross. 

He begs Jesus to remember him, even almost sounds demanding. And Jesus is stuck up there next to him, His own life fading away, paying for all the sins of the world, including this repentant thief's sin. How does Jesus respond to this odd request?

"Amen, I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise."

Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not at the end of time. Today. TODAY! NOW! Jesus not only remembers him, He grants forgiveness, salvation from sin and everlasting life. It is immediate. 

God does not spare His forgiving love. God does not hold back on grace for a repentant sinner. It is for all people, exactly because it is a gift, Gospel applied to a sinner, wherever they are in life. This story is not an excuse for people to continue to intentionally sin and then expect God to grant them forgiveness when they do not really repent. This is for those who have been outside and far from God, but now hear the voice of their Savior, and call to Him for mercy, and He responds with mercy and grace as gifts to undeserving sinners--like us. 

Daily we pray, "Jesus, remember me." Not just at the end, but now, in the hour of temptation, when the devil presses us hard and our resistance is weak. We call upon Him all the time. We dare not trust our own strength, because it will fail. But He who did not fail under temptation, under pain and suffering--He will not fail you. He will provide His strength in your weakness so that He may be your strength and power. That He may assure you that you are forgiven and at peace with Him because He has made the peace with His own life.

Jesus, remember me now and always.

Posts