This coming Sunday the congregation of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church will meet together to vote on two matters. The first vote will be about whether or not to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. The second will be whether or not to call Tim Graff as their pastor. Both of these votes are connected to the Word.
In the first case, the congregation will be voting to join a church body that holds up a particular view of the Word. In its Statement of Faith LCMC believes, teaches and confesses the following:
- Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate
- The proclamation of God’s message to us as both law and gospel is the Word of God
- We believe, teach, and accept the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the sole authoritative source and norm of our proclamation, faith, and life.
Like many of the other moderate to conservative Lutheran church bodies LCMC has spoken in opposition to same-sexed blessings and ordaining practicing homosexuals on the basis of what they believe God’s Word says. They affirm that marriage has been ordained as the bringing together of one man and one woman.
This does not mean though that you will always agree with everything LCMC or any other Lutheran church body will declare on the basis of God’s Word. God’s Word is both Law and Gospel. It judges what is in opposition to Christ and his kingdom and proclaims mercy to all who would repent. In this sense, we will all find ourselves from time to time judged by the Law and in need of repentance and God’s mercy.
This Sunday Trinity will also decide on calling a pastor whose primary responsibility is to preach this Word – both Law and Gospel. You have heard Tim Graff preach and you will need to discern whether he has been faithful to the Word.
As said earlier, this will not mean that you will always agree with everything that he declares on the basis of God’s Word. The Law is sometimes painful to hear whereas the Gospel seeks to soothe and heal our wounds.
The office of Word and Sacrament is critical to our understanding of church for through the Word and the Sacraments we believe that faith is created and nurtured. It is through these means of grace that the Holy Spirit has promised to work in our lives and Christ has promised to be present with us.
Churches and preachers seek to be faithful to the Word, but they are not the Word and sometimes fail to communicate it well. The church, its pastors and its people are sinners and will fail the Word and are in constant need of its redemption.
Keeping the Word central to our life as a church though will enable us to live together in faith, hope and love as Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, with the church body voted for and with the pastor chosen.