On the back wall of the sanctuary there hangs a banner. The
banner features three phrases: WITNESS, MERCY, LIFE
TOGETHER. In 2010 LCMS President Matt Harrison chose
these phrases to illustrate how the church lives and works
together to proclaim the Gospel and to provide for our brothers
and sisters in Christ in our congregations, communities and
throughout the world. Harrison wrote,
In all we do, Christ is
at the center leading us, sustaining us, keeping us focused on our
mission. This will never change.
At the time he introduced the themes President Harrison
commented on the word MERCY. He shared words once
spoken by a young boy in Kenya; words spoken in response to
love received at an orphanage built by LCMS World Relief and
Human Care. The boy said,
I thank God and Jesus Christ that
someone has regarded us as human beings. Along with many
other 'AIDs' orphans, that boy had been so blessed to have a new
home. The word regarded caught Harrison's attention.
Regarded is at the heart of the Lutheran confession of the faith,
as confessed in the Augsburg Confession, Article IV on
justification. It is the door to eternity. And it is also the most
powerful, freeing, compelling force for a joyous life in God's
mercy, driving us to act mercifully to our neighbor in need. In
Christ, God regards us as human beings.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is
not your doing, it is the gift of God. Eph 2.8 Thus we are
reckoned, justified, sinless, and not guilty on account of Jesus. Faith merely grabs hold
of Jesus. In Jesus God recognizes me as somebody. In fact,
God was in Christ
reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. 2 Cor 5.19
There is not a living soul in this world who is not worth the very blood of Jesus. God
accounts each individual as just that precious.
((Here's the bottom line)) God's solution for our sin and our deepest need in time and eternity has been to regard us as valuable as 'His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.' Thus we are set free to regard those around us in the same way – to acknowledge, to recognize, to value, to listen, to forgive, to have compassion, to speak up for, to act in mercy. Then we shall soon find them saying, 'I thank God and Jesus Christ that you have regarded me as a human being.'
SERVE THE NEEDS OF ALL PEOPLES IN CHRISTIAN LOVE
Ephesians 4.7-16; Mark 10.42-44; John 13.35; Galatians 6.10
It's about MERCY! Serve the needs of all peoples in Christian love. Martin Luther had
much to say about 'Serving Others'.
Life is not a selfish isolation. Finally we shall speak
of those works which a man should do toward his neighbor. For a person does not live
for himself alone in this mortal body; as if to work for it alone. He lives for all men on
earth; in fact he lives solely for others and not for himself. For to this end he subjects his
body that he may be able the more sincerely and freely to serve others as Paul says in
Romans 14.7, 'For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we
live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then whether we live or
whether we die, we are the Lord's.' Therefore (Luther writes) it is impossible that we
should ever be idle in this life and without works toward our neighbor.
P.S. Congratulations and the Lord's blessings to our confirmands: Joseph Cisler, Ashley Ellis, Nick Harbison, Teagan Lorenz, Kendall Meyer, Caidy Tuetken, Kate Wineburner
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