WE LIVE IN A DISCONNECTED WORLD
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that in spite of everyone’s good intentions, it remains a disconnected world out there. We are in constant danger of getting discouraged and disoriented. We long for better and deeper relationships with our friends, the people we work with, our own family and even ourselves. But more often than not, the promises that the world gives are found to be empty and even misleading.
Our daily grind in this disconnected world demands that we pay constant attention to our spiritual health. We need to be connected – with ourselves, with each other and with the God who created and now sustains us, the same God who reveals the narrow path for getting connected and staying connected.
Through the ways God has promised to work – worship services, Bible studies, Christian fellowship and Christian service – we can be led to rediscover how our spiritual lives can mature and become more and more connected.
LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD
Good intentions just don’t cut it. When it comes to our salvation, human wishes just don’t cut it. God reveals that as children of a fallen Adam and Eve we are spiritually helpless and even rebel against God’s way of redeeming us. Before Jesus can come and begin his saving work, he must get us to the place of despairing of our own fallen abilities and allow God to save us.
Getting connected means, first of all, giving up any silly notions that we can somehow save ourselves and connect with God and our neighbor through our own efforts.
CONNECTED UNDER THE CROSS
We take sin seriously at this church and school because we take the forgiveness of sin seriously. We don’t apologize for following the truth revealed in the Bible that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s holy and perfect will. All are in need of Christ’s cleansing Word that washes away all sin.
The cross is the touchstone for Our Daily life. It is at the foot of the Cross that we see most clearly both the great weight of our sin, the sin of the world and, more importantly, God’s gracious solution for our helpless condition.
The Cross is the God-provided lens through which we as Christians understand ourselves, the world and the heart of God. When it comes to our salvaion, our Lord will not be known in any other way except through Christ and his sacrifice on Calvary.
At Redeemer Lutheran, Jesus Christ and the giving of his very lifeblood for a dark and dying world are the centerpiece of what we believe, teach and confess. As Martin Luther so beautifully wrote in his Small Catechism:
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death, that I may be his own and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, even as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
DYING TO SELF, LIVING IN CHRIST
Baptism is the door into the Christian life. When it comes to how salvation is offered, Jesus doesn’t leave it up to our imagination. God re-creates us and re-connects young and old through his Word and the water of Holy Baptism. Scripture is clear that we are baptized into the death of Christ so that we may be connected to his resurrection and ascension into heaven. (Romans 6:3) The promises given to us at Baptism are in effect for the rest of our lives. Through this “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5) we now have a gracious Father in heaven.
HIS LOVE AND OUR RESPONSE
The rhythm of worship: from God to us and then from us back to him. The centerpiece of the entire Christian life is the saving Word of God; the Word written (the Holy Scriptures), the Word with water (Holy Baptism) and the Word with bread and wine (Holy Communion). Through these three specific channels, the Word of God made flesh offers us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, giving us the ability to respond in faith to what he has first said to us.
This is the distinctive understanding of Christian worship at Redeemer Lutheran. “Divine Service” is first and foremost God serving us with his heavenly gifts through his Son and his Cross (the sacrifice of salvation), and only then is it our offering of gifts back to God (a sacrifice of thanksgiving).
Like prayer, our response on Sunday morning and throughout the week is based on what God first announces in Christ. It is freely given to God and neighbor and adds nothing to our salvation, already secure in Christ and his Cross.
CARE UNDER CHRIST
With nail-pierced hands Christ cares for his sheep. Jesus the Good Shepherd cares and feeds his flock through his Word which re-connects us to God and to each other. Through the Scriptures, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper he strengthens us and keeps us in his grace until he comes to take us to his kingdom of glory.
Where do we look for the care of our souls and the ability to care for others? Our only source of direction and hope (for ourselves and those around us) is in the free gift of God’s grace, a gift that creates a special kind of faith in our hearts that holds tight to Christ and his Word. Only this faith can produce God-pleasing fruits of faith that truly give glory to God and serve our neighbor. At Redeemer, true Christian care is always a result of true Christian trust in the Gospel. First priority: the tree and its nature, then the good fruit that follows in season.
SAY “AMEN” TO GOD’S VERDICT
The Christian life: saying “yes, this is most certainly true” to God’s DECLARATION. When we receive God’s take on the world and our old, fallen nature, we are given the ability to despair of our own human attempts to win heaven and find comfort in Christ’s righteousness. The Scriptures were not given for us to judge them, but for God’s Word to first announce that we are helpless sinners in need of God’s gracious forgiveness, and then to declare, “Upon this your confession, I declare you justified through Christ.” Jesus’ invitation is a no-strings-attached gift based not on what we deserve, but on his mercy and loving-kindness. Our response of faith: “Amen!”
You are always welcome to be a part of Redeemer Lutheran, joining us as we live our lives confident that we have been declared righteous by God’s grace through faith in the substitutionary work of Christ – freed to live our lives to God’s glory and for the sake of our neighbor.
Opportunities to be strengthened in your faith include:
Sunday Morning Services at 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM, with Sunday School and Adult Bible Classes between 9:30 and 10:30 AM.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study Service at 7:00 PM.
Other Bible studies, social work activities and events for youth and children are offered regularly.
Dan Harmelink, 10/20/2008