The Reverend Alvin Shrum, Pastor
Dear Family and Friends of St. Johannes!
Luke 24:45-48 (ESV) says: “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in the name of Jesus to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
We Are People of Forgiveness! We easily forget what our purpose is as the Church: “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in the name of Jesus to all nations.” This is our primary purpose!
Whatever we do from worship, music, various groups, outreach, to Sacraments, preaching and whatever we do, we should do it with an understanding of repentance and forgiveness of sins that is proclaimed in the name of Jesus Christ to all people.
Notice that Jesus did not say that we were the enforcers for morality. Rather, we are the proclaimers of forgiveness. People may or may not change their lifestyles, their sinful choices, or their secret sinfulness. We pray for God’s Holy Spirit to influence people to make God-honoring changes as we offer support. Yet, at the end of day, what we are called to do is to be witnesses of the Resurrection, the absolute proof of their forgiveness.
In the Church, we get too caught-up by the “yeah but.” We know that we are to proclaim Christ’s story of grace and forgiveness, but we are acutely aware of the Law. God’s Law accuses us daily because we are all sinners who need the Lord. Like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, we secretly don’t want anyone else getting away with sin and having what we perceive as a good time! So, to Jesus’ command to proclaim forgiveness, we say, “Yeah, but, he sins a lot! He sins and he knows he is sinning and he does it anyway so why should he get for- giveness?” That is the effects of the Law. The answer is that forgiveness originated with God and His love. And you know what else? We are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. WOW! This is a sobering thought, isn’t it?
Christ forgives us because that is what He came to do. Secondly, forgiveness is God’s way for each of us to be reconciled – with God and others. Thus, our calling is to be witnesses of that forgiveness – not judges, not prosecuting attorneys, and not sin police officers…, just witnesses.
So, always remember that Christ has forgiven you of an amazing load of sin. The cross of Christ has our sin DNA all over it. So proclaim your forgiveness! Go tell it on the mountain, as the hymn declares. Share your story; tell people you know how Christ has forgiven you through Holy Absolution, through Baptism and through the Lord’s Supper. Then invite those whom you tell to St. Johannes Lutheran Church where we join together as sinners and saints each and every week so that they too may experience the same forgiveness and peace that you have and embrace.
Let us live in the fact that because God’s grace and forgiveness abounds, sin begins to weaken and faith begins to grow and work in us to demonstrate the power of forgiveness and power of Christ that God has given us for every purpose. Thanks be to God!
In His service,