Continually Blessing God
Ascension is one of the forgotten great festivals of the church year. This year our brothers and sisters in Christ from Trinity, Worden and Holy Cross, Livingston, will join us for a Divine Service on Thursday, June 2 at 7:00pm to celebrate this feast day. Our District President, Rev. Timothy Scharr is scheduled to preach. Join us for this special service. There will be fellowship with coffee, juice and cookies in our school gym following the service. Mark your calendar!
This is a double issue of the Zion Messenger, covering the summer months of June and July. From Ascension we propel forward into a couple of quieter months on the church calendar. Summer is filled with vacations, BBQs, time outside with family and friends, and all other opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of God’s good gifts in creation. As for the church year, we have Ascension, Pentecost, Holy Trinity Sunday and then what’s often called “Ordinary Time” or the “non-festival” half of the church year. We have VBS, our annual outdoor service and church picnic, and then “ordinary” time.
Yes, summer can be more relaxed, filled with exciting things, but there’s one other thing we always anticipate at church during the summer— lower attendance. That’s the unfortunate thing among the joys of summer. It seems that the joy of Easter, the joy of Christ crucified and risen, the joy of sin forgiven, the joy of God’s presence in Word and Sacrament fades.
The disciples had every reason for their joy to fade after the Lord “parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” And yet “they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” Jesus had told them to stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high. He was talking about Pentecost and the fulfillment of His promise to send the Holy Spirit. As the discipleswaited, they spent ten days continually “blessing” God. They worshiped continually! What does it mean to “bless” God? Doesn’t He do the blessing? In our liturgy, the pastor says, “Bless we the Lord” and the response is “Thanks be to God.” To bless God is to praise Him. And what is the greatest act of praise? We call upon His name. We cast ourselves at His mercy. In the Offertory canticle, “What Shall I Render?” we sing, “I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord. I will TAKE THE CUP OF SALVATION and call upon the name of the Lord. Your Lord is all about salvation, saving you, giving you His gifts, filling you with Himself, filling your cup so that it “runneth over.”
Do we not need what the Lord has to give during summer? Do we not need His salvation as much as other times of the year? Of course we do! Remember that as you spend time with your family, as you enjoy creation, and as you vacation. There are LCMS churches all over the place. Find one when you go on vacation. Check lcms.org. Check with me. Even though some things may slow down in the summer, the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments continues. Thanks be to God!
“Return to Jerusalem,” to Zion each week in the joy of the Savior who died for you and was raised again, who ascended to the right hand of God the Father, and who will come again to judge the living and the dead and raise you up for all eternity. Worship Him! Bless His holy name! Sing the song of salvation with all the saints and angels, celebrating the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end. And have a great summer!
Yours in Christ,