August 28, 2019

 

FROM THE PASTOR . . .

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Where did the summer go? Time sure does seem to fly by! In Psalm 90, Moses observed, “The length of our days is seventy years or eighty, if we have the strength.” Not much has changed since that was written. An average person still only gets seventy or eighty summers in life, which makes another statement in the Psalm important, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” With all of the different things that compete for our attention, it's easy to lose track of the important matters.

 

For many of us, jobs have become all-consuming passions. We need to work so that we can earn money and eat. We can find fulfillment and even enjoyment from work, keeping in mind that by serving our neighbor we are serving our Lord. But it can get out of hand. Jobs seem to have a way of becoming our identity. When someone asks who you are, or what you do, the answer is almost always a job description. For those who are retired, the question is still often answered with what their job used to be. Our Lord has some strikingly different thoughts regarding our identity, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Isn't that the identity we should treasure the most?

 

Every description we give of ourselves based on our jobs falls short because there will always come a time when by choice, age, or a poor economy we will no longer be able to hold that job. Our identity given to us by God in our Baptism, however, never disappears throughout eternity.

 

Another disturbing trend today is the increasing importance of our play. It's amazing how much time, effort, and money we put into play—sports, hobbies, travel, leisure, electronics, etc. Consider the amount of time we spend each day staring at a screen—computer, phone, kindle, ipad, television, etc. It’s an addiction for many that consumes much of our time and can keep us from being physically present and social with those God has placed right in front of us.

 

With all of this time, effort, and money dedicated to work and play, where does worship fit in? Well, since so few people think of themselves as part of a “royal priesthood” (even believers) they act as though they have no particular responsibilities when it comes to Spiritual growth and worship. In other words, worship is treated as playtime. “I’ll get to it if I can.”

 

This is a sign that our lives are out of order. The work and play categories we have down fairly well (perhaps too well), but what about worship? In worship we hear from God. God speaks and we listen. The rhythm of worship is from Him to us. As His Word works in us, we respond to what He's said. God judges sin and forgives. His Word is set in the context of our lives. In the sermon, God uses His Word to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. The benediction promises God will be with His people as they go from His house into the world. We need what worship gives—the forgiveness of sins and the interaction with our Lord and Savior in the physical presence of our brothers and sisters in Christ which sustains and strengthens our faith. We can’t live without this. We are encouraged by the Word of God, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

 

With the summer drawing to a close and the students returning to class (including Sunday School and Confirmation class), it’s a good time to ask the Holy Spirit to re-align our lives, to take some time to reflect on what is important and eternal and what is not. It's a great time to pray, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

 

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Rasmussen

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