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August 25, 2017, 12:00 AM

An Alien Invasion!


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This past Friday was the opening chapel service at the Seminary I attended in St. Louis.

The preacher, the Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, President of the school (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO), memorably referred to the decline of the Christian Church in the West as "one great tabagon slide down a hill." And, he added, "the Missouri Synod is definitely on it!" And, no one could or would deny that Baptisms, new converts, and overall membership in congregations are down all over the nation, and in all 35 Districts of our church body. 

What to do? In my own words, I would say:

Continue worshipping the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yes. Worship is what to do. What do I mean?

In the Athanasian Creed (that longer creed we say only once a year in worship), it says clearly and in two places that "the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in three Persons..." Now, I know that it sounds as though I'm dodging the real question. But this has always been how the Christian Church shines the Light of Christ (John 8:12) into the vast and unknowns of the world's darkness: worship. Invite others to come and see. Show mercy to those who need it. Invite still others. And worship. And repeat as necessary! For, our whole lives are to be a kind of living worship service to God! I think of Romans 12, the beginning of the chapter:

"Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship (Greek: "liturgy"). Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will." (12:1-2, NIV)

Great news. But what does this mean for us? The preacher continued: 

"I am sure people have told you that it's a terrible time to do what you're doing, to go out and become a minister. Our congregations are struggling. But it is a GREAT time to be the Church. Because of Jesus. We are now seeing more clearly the radical nature of Faith. Many Americans consider Faith to be a matter of feeling: they say, 'as long as you are sincere in what you believe and don't hurt anyone, then your Faith is just as good as mine.' But we know that Faith is not a feeling, but an external, objective truth!

It's an alien invasion!

That's the basis of our Faith. It is Christ, descending from heaven to be born of a virgin and to do all of things we know He did. For us. In fact, it is a Faith that claims us despite our feelings!

And this is shown all the more in its contrast with the culture and the world around us. We don't grieve as though we have no hope! We grieve good things being lost, certainly, but we do so with HOPE. And that is why it is a GREAT time to be the Church."  

Essentially, following the Scripture closely here means everything for us.

Now, I couldn't quite believe he said the words "alien invasion" to mean the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, his ministry, death on the cross, and resurrection. Certainly an attention getting phrase! But I suppose that is what he did: he invaded our world and from a different world, from heaven, of course. By his later commands to love one another and make disciples through Baptizing and Teaching, the work of God is continuing with us. Right now, right here. 

We have been given this mantle--remarkably, amost unbelievably. Amazingly, we are to speak for God to one someone: "You are forgiven." To another, "You cannot walk this way without being judged by God." To still another, "God will love you through this challenge."

Almost inexplicably, we are at the beginning each day with our God. We are made new. Again. Because we need it.

And, for the 179th time, the academic year at my Seminary began.

Before it did, Dr. Meyer approached a new student sitting in the pew.

"How old were you when 9/11 happened?"

The student answered, "Seven years old."

"See?" asked Pastor Meyer. "The world the way it is today is all they've known! We as the older generation will try to convey what wisdom we can to them as they bring Christ the light of all nations into this world!"

And with hope and wisdom and prayer, the school year began.

And with hope and wisdom and prayer, our lives begin again each day.

Because of an alien invasion.

Because of Christ.

In Him,

Pastor Dieterichs 

 

relevant link: WWW.CSL.EDU A Seminary of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod since 1839

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 


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