Pastor David Nehrenz
Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ during this Pentecost season.
The month of July is always a good time to remind ourselves of God’s institution of both the Church and the State. I share this every year with you during this month:
The State: Independence Day is July 4th and then later came the founding of our constitutional, democratic, federal republic – the United States of America. It was, and is, a great blessing for temporal life and grants us our civic freedoms.
God established the State as His “minister (servant)” as it says in Romans 13:1-7 ”The authorities that exist have been established by God…do what is right and he will commend you…he is God’s servant to do you good…he does not bear the sword for nothing…he is God’s servant (minister), an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer…the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.”
(The State is called “The Kingdom of God’s Left Hand”- it has the office of the sword and rules by Civil Government)
The Church: Established by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, it continues today in Word and Sacrament and gives great blessings of eternal life and spiritual freedom.
God established the Church as His “minister” as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:1 “Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry…we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord….” and in 5:18 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not counting men’s trespasses against them.” Also in 1 Corinthians 4:1 “Men ought to regard us as ministers/servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things (sacraments/mysteries) of God”
(The Church is called “The Kingdom of God’s Right Hand” – it has the office of the keys and rules by Word and Sacrament)
During this month, as we take time to enjoy this time of year, we commit ourselves anew to the unique work of Christ’s great commission – bringing the Gospel to the nations and the nations to the church. Though we thank the Lord for the blessings we have in this country, we know that the Gospel is meant to be proclaimed to all nations. As we travel around the country during our summer vacations, we all marvel at the beauty of this land and nation. We can live free lives and faithfully proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – from sea to shining sea.
So no matter what the circumstances are, we can rejoice in the Lord, because nothing will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! So rejoice today in the Lord!
Vicar Jordan Peiser
Romans 6:5-7 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. On July 4th, we celebrate the freedom that we have because of our forefathers who fought to establish America as a free nation. However, as we celebrate our civil liberties, we can also reflect on the greater liberty that we have in Christ. Christ did not become incarnate, suffer under Pontius Pilate, die on the cross, and rise again from the dead so that we could have freedom of speech and representation in the government. Christ went to the cross so that we could be free from our ancient and most violent enemies of sin, death, and the devil.
When Christ went to the cross, He overthrew our ancient enemies and set us free. As He says in the Gospel of John, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”(Jn 8:36). When Christ set us free, He set us free so that we could live with Him in His kingdom and so that we would no longer be slaves to sin as St. Paul says, “the one who has died has been set free from sin” (Rom 6:7). Since we have died with Christ, our freedom is to be used for the good of those around us. So, as we remember our civil liberties, let us also remember the freedom we have received in Baptism when we died with Christ and where Christ raised us again to new and unending life.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, died for the ungodly, declaring all of humanity righteous by the shedding of His blood. Grant us the free gift of faith to receive this reality for our salvation, that by Your grace we may serve You in love and righteousness all the days of our lives; through Your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!