Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Carthage, Missouri

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Reformation, Big Deal

In the midst of all of the things that Megan and I had going on this Summer, one of them was hosting a family from Germany who are friends of ours from Seminary. They contacted us back when we lived in South Dakota about making the trip across the pond and asked us about dates. Well, actually they told us which dates they were coming because of the deal they got on tickets. The week they were going to be in the States happened to be the same date Elias was due. Not the best situation but hey, a lot could happen in a few months. And it did. First it looked like Elias would be here well before they arrived and then, not so much. One night while they were here, I asked them to watch Avery because I had to take Megan to the hospital. On the bright side, they got to see Elias during their stay and we certainly had no shortage of things to talk about.

One of the things we talked about before all the baby hullabaloo was the Reformation. Fritz and myself, being Lutheran pastors (or nearly so, he will be ordained shortly) we talked about some Lutheran stuff. What is more            Lutheran than the Reformation? Nothing. Fritz asked, “Is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation a big deal to Christians here in America?” After contemplating the question for a moment I replied, “It is to Lutherans.” Of course, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is a huge deal to Germans of nearly any religious affiliation. The 500th anniversary of Luther’s birth (back in 1483) saw huge amounts of celebrations even in atheist (officially at that time)  East Germany. Luther is woven into the fabric of German heritage in a way that he is not to most Americans.

Yet at the same time, perhaps he should be. My follow-up response to the Reformation being a big deal to Lutherans was that it should be a big deal to other Christians in America, too. All of the Protestant denominations in the United States own their existence to the Reformation. Sure, Lutherans bear the name of the Reformation’s most notable reformer, but that does not mean that Luther or the movement he inspired is exclusively important to us. When Luther broke with Rome, others saw that it could be done and they took the opportunity to do so as well. Most of the  non-Lutheran Protestants settled on theologies that differed from that of Luther (obviously) but they only had this    opportunity because a monk in Wittenberg nailed a series of arguments to a church door 500 years ago.

Even Roman Catholics have benefited from the Reformation. Sure, their official position is that Luther was some kind of heretical spawn of Satan or some such thing, but the Roman Catholic Church of today is not nearly as   despicably corrupt as it was 500 years ago. Much of that has to do with Luther and the light that the Reformation cast   on that church’s institutional immorality. It may still be official Roman Catholic doctrine, but I think that your average Catholic today would be horrified at the prospect of Bishops buying their position or the Church selling forgiveness     (to say nothing of the nefarious activities the Church unofficially undertook in the Late Middle Ages).

As the date of the Reformation approaches in October, perhaps it would not be a bad idea for a good Lutheran like yourself to brush up on some Reformation (or other related) history. Dust off that catechism (the Large Catechism if you are feeling especially Lutheran) and just read through it thinking about why Luther wrote the thing. Find yourself a short biography of Luther. I recently have begun rereading one I used at the Sem. There are a number out there that are quite approachable. There is also the Luther movie that our congregation will be    taking part in hosting this October as well (do get your tickets to that if you want to go since we need a certain number). Perhaps through looking at Luther and the Reformation you will gain a better appreciation for being Lutheran. Also, you might see more clearly the thing which Luther himself was always concerned about showing people, namely the Gospel, the free salvation that belongs to all people though Jesus Christ.


He is Risen

These days (the last couple hundred years or so) you find a lot of different kinds of Christians.  There are Lutherans and Roman Catholics, Methodists and Baptists and so forth. Depending on where you are you may be more likely to find one kind of Christian more than the other.  In South Dakota you ran into a lot of Lutherans.  In Arkansas (and southwest Missouri to a certain extent) you run into a lot of Baptists.  However, unless you are in Russia or Greece you typically don’t run into a lot of Eastern Orthodox Christians.  I was surprised a little when I met an individual in South Dakota who said that he was part of the Orthodox Church. He did not look particularly Russian or Greek (both countries are predominantly full of Orthodox Christians). He looked kind of Middle Eastern.  He was, in fact, Egyptian. He was part of the Egyptian Orthodox Church.  He was an American citizen and all but his faith was Orthodox.  We had some interesting conversations.

One time when I met him it was shortly after Easter and he asked me a question.  He said, “Do you think that most Christians really believe in the resurrection?”  I knew what he was getting at.  It really isn’t an easy position to hold when one comes under a certain kind of scrutiny.  Still on the other hand, it is easy to say that you believe in the resurrection.  It is easy to recite the Nicene Creed along with everyone else in the sanctuary and come to the part where it says “and I look for the resurrection of the dead” without giving it much thought.  This same creed would have been said in the Orthodox Church as well (with the caveat of “and the Son” being left out in the third article {old disagreement they have}). Believing that statement about the resurrection requires faith, quite a bit of faith.  It means believing that something that seems to be physically impossible can and will happen.

He correctly followed this question with the statement, “The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith.” To which I smiled and said, “Yes, it is.”  As I thought about it some more I figured that if any Christian I know were asked about the resurrection they would say they believed it.  If asked about how they thought it was physically possible or what not, then they would probably be at a loss for words.  Yet, I am not too disheartened by this.  Belief is not the same as scientific explanation.  God does   not ask us to understand how.  He just asks us to believe.  Yes, the Christian faith does stand or fall on the resurrection of Christ.  And for the entire history of the Church no one has ever had Jesus repeat the process of dying and rising so that they can run an experiment to figure out how it is done.  That misses the point.  If God is God, it really doesn’t matter.  If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead then it means that you believe that He is much more than a guy who figured out how to come back to life after being crucified.  He is God’s own Son.  He is God himself.  He is the resurrection and the life.  Believing this takes faith in God to be God.  I think my Orthodox friend really knew this and I trust you do, too.  He is risen, He is risen indeed, alleluia.

~ Pastor Mehl

New Mics

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we have worked through sound issues in the sanctuary recently that seems to have been caused by our mics failing.  We have purchased new mics.  We believe the new mics have improved the sound, but we will continue to monitor this going forward.  If you have difficulties hearing in the future, let us know so we can make necessary adjustments.

– Thank you
The Board of Elders


Jr Confirmation, May 28

God’s Blessings to Korbin F. who is to be confirmed on Sunday, May 28th, during the early service.  Korbin has been going to classes and studying God’s word for the past two years, and is now ready to make public confession of his faith in Jesus Christ.  He will also receive his first communion with his family and the congregation.

Our Confirmand:

Korbin F., son of Bradley and Donya M.

We ask God to bless Korbin, that he may continue to grow in His love, and that he will remain faithful to Him forever.