Sunday’s Message: Confession, Word, Body, Calling

decision-fork-in-roadGrace to you and peace from God our Father and from God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Let us pray…May these words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Amen.

Occasionally we come to critical junctions in the road of life where decisions have to be made. Today is one of those times.

Today our congregation will be voting on whether or not to join a new church body and whether or not to call a particular pastor.

As I reflected on the scripture readings designated for this Sunday I heard each of them speak to a part of these decisions.

Read Nehemiah 8:1-10.

Nehemiah tells the story of those Jews who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild after being slaves in Babylon for some 80 years. In this passage the people gather to be reminded of the life God commanded them to live.

Ezra is asked to read from the Book of the Law of Moses. In many ways it is their confession of faith, a statement of who God is, who they are and how they have been called to live.

Christians, historically, have also had summaries of faith like this. In the early centuries the various creeds were written and even today we regularly speak either the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds.

For us as Christians of the Lutheran confession we also have a Confession or Statement of Faith that is slightly more elaborate and hidden in our constitution. Today we are being asked to subscribe to the statement of faith of the church body we are considering joining: LCMC.

In any case, our current confession and LCMC’s confession both affirm many of the same things.

  • We believe, confess and teach faith in the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe, confess and teach faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour; the center of the Gospel we proclaim; the Word made flesh whose message is both Law and Gospel.
  • We believe, teach and confession that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, our sole authority for faith and life and the means by which God creates and nurtures faith.
  • We understand the scriptures by turning to the Creeds and our Lutheran Confessions, correct summaries of what we believe, confess and reach regarding God, the Gospel and many other central tenets of our faith.

Read Psalm 19:7-9.

For the Jewish people the Word of the Lord was the Law. This reading and the previous one well illustrate that point.

For us as Christians though, the Word of God goes far beyond the Law which curbs evil, mirrors our sinfulness and points us to God’s ways.

The Word is first and foremost Jesus Christ. Secondly, this Word comes to us through the Scriptures (Bible), preaching, the sacraments, and even as we converse or witness as Christians. This Word is both the message of the Law, pointing to our need for God and the Gospel, announcing our forgiveness, freedom, and renewal. Finally, this Word defines our faith, in terms of what we believe, and our life – how we are to live as followers of Christ.

This congregation left the ELCIC based on what it heard the Word saying and not saying. Today you are voting on whether to join a church body that has a slightly different perspective on that Word and its implications for life. Today you are also calling a pastor to proclaim this Word in Jesus Christ.

We are a people of the Word and to belong to this community is to accept the Word as foundational to our faith and life.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.

I’m not sure how many people truly understand what the church is. Many see it is an outdated institution, a club for insiders or a service provider when you need a baptism, marriage or funeral.

Paul considered the church a living body. He wrote, Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

The Church was brought into existence by God who called people together through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through water and the Word they were joined together in baptism, made one and yet which such gifted diverse. This body was called into existence to continue the mission of Christ that reaches out to the weak and broken and separated to make them whole.

Today, you are being asked to consider formally joining yourselves to another part of the body called LCMC. It is a part of Christ’s body made up of 805 congregations representing 300-400,000 members in 11 countries around the world.

Today, you are being asked to consider formally joining a church body that emphasizes that each baptized person is important to the body of Christ and to God’s mission in the world.

Read Luke 4:14-21.

Jesus came into the synagogue, as was his custom and he turned to the Scriptures and began to read from Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…

Today, you are calling a pastor who has been ordained to proclaim the Word of God, a Word that you will sometimes find hard to hear and yet at other times, it will heal your wounds and set you free.

Today, we are reminded that even though there are important decisions to be made, some things have not changed. God is still God and God’s mission has a church sent out to participate in God’s mission of redemption and renewal to Ponoka Town, County and wherever we find ourselves.

Then Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down (Luke 4:20). And he concluded, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

In other words, all the real important decisions have already been made. All that’s left is for us to trust and follow our Lord.

Now may the peace of God that passes all understandings keep us rooted in Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

One Reply to “Sunday’s Message: Confession, Word, Body, Calling”

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