Encouragement For The Day - March 20, 2020
Beloved in Christ:
The Collect for Lent 4 is: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, you receive us as your children and provides for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge your merciful goodness, give thanks for all your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience …"
It is a prayer that is always appropriate and true, but even moreso under the pressure of the current emergency.
In it we first address God as Almighty and as heavenly Father. That means he created us, sustains us, redeems us in Christ and that there is no emergency beyond his power to repair. Indeed, his mercies are new each morning. New, and better and more abundant until we wake to the eternal morning when our post communion verse will come true in full: O Give thanks unto the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever.
We have heard it said many times that Holy Communion is an installment of the return of Christ. Not merely a reminder or symbol but an actual portion and piece of Christ's final return given to us here and now. Heaven on earth. In the same way I think we can safely say that tribulation is an installment of his final judgment to be suffered by those who do not repent, believe the gospel, receive Christian baptism and live the baptismal life.
While we have much currency to spend in the world in the form of money, talent, skill, cleverness and so on, before God there is only one currency that avails: faith in Jesus which means all that was just stated: repentance, a sincere effort to turn from our sins, to regret them, to believe the absolution given, to worship God in his sanctuary and to walk as a child of the light.
For all who will not there awaits certain judgment, the pains of earth being simply installments of what will become true, in full for those who are not Christ's. And so all men must make a decision here and now that has eternal consequences.
But be sure that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
God uses these events, he even allows the devil to afflict us in this life (see Job 1-2; 2 Cor 12:7-10) but always for God's own purposes and for our benefit and blessing. And thus Paul summarizes the case like this:
Romans 8:28-33 "28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies."
With all this in mind, that all things work together for good for those who love God, I urge you to read this article carefully and take it to heart. In it you will find the reason that as long as God gives your pastor life and health Christ Lutheran Church will continue to celebrate Holy Communion with Jesus every Sunday at 10:30 AM and every Wednesday at 7 PM.
I am also hereby issuing a sincere invitation to those of other denominations whose church has closed for the emergency, to join us at Christ Lutheran Church; remembering the word of Jesus, "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." (John 12:25-26)
In closing let us hear the final line of Sunday's epistle, which is a segment of 1st century Christian liturgy for Asia Minor.
"Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." (Eph. 5:14)
Peace to all in Christ to all!
Rev. Dean Kavouras, Pastor