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Happy New Year

We just moved into the season of Advent, the preamble to Christmas, and in this season of hope, we are also ahead of the world. This is the New Year of the Holy Church, which we just heard the definition in last week's Lutheran Confession selection. Being ahead of the curve means we can see forever from our perspective as watchers of God. Watchers are also warners: we must speak to a dying world of the life through repentance and forgiveness. God called us to not keep the message of salvation through Christ to ourselves. We are to speak boldly with humility and reverence to those who are dying. How do we find these people anyway?

We pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the field and we ask the Lord to send souls who need to be confronted and comforted by His Holy Word that cuts to the heart of the matter of sin, but also sends the healing Word of Christ crucified.

This time we explore the Church in the world and how people fit into her. And Holy Church talk is Kingdom of God talk because the Church is truly and rightly called the Kingdom of God. But what does the Church resemble? From the Apology (or defense) of the Augsburg Confession:

"For it is necessary to understand what it is that principally makes us members, and that, living members, of the Church. If we will define the Church only as an outward polity of the good and wicked, men will not understand that the kingdom of Christ is righteousness of heart and the gift of the Holy Ghost [that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, as nevertheless it is; that therein Christ inwardly rules, strengthens, and comforts hearts, and imparts the Holy Ghost and various spiritual gifts], but they will judge that it is only the outward observance of certain forms of worship and rites."

Herman Sasse (a German Lutheran pastor and theologian) called the differences found in the outward and inward Church the difference between the visible and the hidden Church. 

As we continue this study of the Church, it is helpful to understand that the Church is found everywhere. But it is found, not where men say it is found, but it has a personal connection with a believer. The Apology continues:

"But the Gospel [which is preached in the Church] brings not merely the shadow of eternal things, but the eternal things themselves, the Holy Ghost and righteousness, by which we are righteous before God. [But every true Christian is even here upon earth partaker of eternal blessings, even of eternal comfort, of eternal life, and of the Holy Ghost, and of righteousness which is from God, until he will be completely saved in the world to come.]"

We will continue with more of the Church...

Mi Familia

The title is not about my family by blood, but the Family of God by adoption. This Family is called the One, Holy Church, and it is enumerated in the Holy Bible and confessed throughout our Lutheran Confessions. I will only mention where we hear of in the Augsburg Confession, Article VII: You are here: Of the Church.

1 Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

2 And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and

3 the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike.

4 As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Ephesians 4:5-6.

5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

How does this affect us? We welcome all who wish to join with us in the understanding of these key points, elucidated in Holy Scripture and believed on and confessed by the Church throughout the ages. We are thankful for this unity and this is brought about by the Holy Spirit gathering the Church, as spoken in the meaning of the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

And to that we can only say Amen.

Forward

Forward

General George Patton had a few well-tried and proven mantras, but one sticks out in this time of "war": Never pay for the same real estate twice." He meant do not retreat from hard-gained territory only to have to take it back again. It costs in lives. He was always going forward. So are we.

We as a church do not want to move back in that we are too far forward to retreat back into our safe past. We are not retreating anymore. And while we are worshiping in our family life center, and have been for over a year, it works for us. Initially we thought we might go back to our old sanctuary, but we have adapted the FLC for worship and for now, there is no looking back.

While we do this, we keep our eyes on the Lord and He will guide us through all these times and the times to come.

Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

God bless and keep you always.

 

Keep Watch!

Our Lord Jesus reminds us to keep watch as we live out our days and wait for His return. In Matthew 24=25; Mark 13; and Luke 21, Jesus warns to His followers to be alert and awake for they do not know the day or the hour of His return. He uses many examples of people, plants and signs from the heavens to be watchful. At the same time, He reminds them not to attempt to figure out the times or assume that others do. Too many failed groups who thought and believed they knew the day and hour have come and gone, and we still wait faithfully for His return. At the same time, we want to avail ourselves of Jesus's gifts to strengthen, nourish, enliven, prepare and keep us close to Him by way of His Word and Sacraments. Noah spent a long time to build the ark, thereby giving people time to repent of their evil. God was using this time to proclaim His judgement, and He still uses time for people to repent, receive mercy and trust in Him with all their heart. God would rather have the person repent and live than die in their sins.

Advent, this month before Christmas, reminds us that while we wait and mark the days before the annual celebration of the Lord Christ breaking into His world He created as one of us, we also look forward to His final return as the Conquering Judge, who will separate the sheep from the goats. He came to save us from judgment against sin by becoming as sin, so that through His sacrifice we might become the righteousness of God through Him (2 Corinthians 5:21),

This time also reminds us that the calendar of the Church is ahead of the calendar we use daily. December, the last month of the year, is the first month of the Church's new year. We are so blessed that the Lord has brought us through so much, yet we still have much to experience as we continue down this road. Please keep close to God's Word, and as we enter into Advent, keep the prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus," in your vocabulary.

Mark 13:32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Originally posted on November 23, 2020 3:41 PM by Scott Lemmermann

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