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Following Jesus is Not Just a Metaphor

Following God Today

I take seriously the responsibility I have been given to proclaim God’s Word and to administer the Sacraments. God knows our need. He desires to be gracious to us, and so He gives us precisely what we need - we need resurrection and life. The means of grace are the instruments which the Holy Spirit uses to deliver to us the forgiveness of sins and to create and strengthen faith in Jesus Christ. The work of Christ on the cross becomes the work of our salvation in our individual lives through these means of grace. 

Following Jesus is Not a Metaphor

When I encourage people to participate in the worship of Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, I invite them to be present with God. God can choose to act in any way He desires, but we don’t have to play a game of scavenger hunt and try to figure out where He will be next. He has promised to work through the means of grace. It is time for the people who follow Jesus in this congregation to be present where God has promised to be present. The Sacraments are established by God. Through the Word of God that is delivered to us in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper we are connected to God’s gracious promises.

Follow Jesus

Isaiah told the people, “See the LORD while he may be found’ call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Jesus said to the first disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Sometimes we may think the call to follow Jesus is a metaphor for our spiritual journey. We follow Jesus by trusting Him in our heart to be our salvation, and we no longer follow after the false gods of our own choosing. Jesus was not calling those men to a metaphor. They left their nets and they followed Jesus. They showed up where Jesus showed up. They followed Jesus as he traveled from Galilee down to Jerusalem. Through the strength of the spirit they followed him. Today we still need to do more than follow a metaphor. He calls us to be present with Him where He has promised to be in this world. Be in the Word of God. Be in the waters of Baptism. Be with Him at the table. When John the Baptist was imprisoned and sent his messengers to Jesus, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus told them to tell John what they have seen and heard. Jesus pointed these men to His ministry among the blind, the lame, lepers, deaf, dead, and poor. If we are going to follow Jesus, then we go where He pointed John’s messengers to look for Him.

Reformation

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 Theses on the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg. On the eve of All Saints day he posted these items for debate, which was a common event in the academic environment of Wittenberg. All Saints Day would be one of the busiest days at the Castle Church as many pilgrims would arrive to view the large relic collection that Frederick the Wise had collected. The posting of these 95 theses was both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. Luther sought an ordinary academic debate that pursued the freedom of Christians from the tyranny of power. Luther was also doing something extraordinary because the power that he protested was being exercised by the church itself through a system of penance that kept Christians in doubt and despair.

There are a number of great resources developed over the last few years because of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Concordia Seminary in 2017 prepared an hour long documentary to illustrate the power of Martin Luther's actions on October 31, 1517. This documentary took four years to make, with portions shot on location throughout Germany where the actual Reformation events occurred.

Luther desired there to be a debate on the topic of the indulgences. Indulgences were sold for money or distributed in reward for pious works. A person that received an indulgence gained forgiveness and so release from the sufferings of purgatory. The church, under the authority of the pope, distributed indulgences to people. The indulgences transferred the merits of the saints to other parties, above all those in purgatory.

The sale of indulgences were a means for the church to obtain financing for large projects. They were like selling bonds and the payoffs of the bonds were found in the reduction in time from purgatory. Luther initially stated that he was not attacking the system of indulgences but only their abuses. The pivot from attacking abuse to attacking the system did not take long. The system of indulgences bypassed salvation by faith in the grace of Christ and instead supported a system of merits that could be earned by pious works.

On October 31 we remember the moment when a hammer and a nail broke down the institutional controls of power and restored the confidence that salvation is in Christ.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

Trunk or Treat - Friday, October 25th, 5:30-7:30 PM

OUR SHEPHERD TRUNK OR TREAT
Friday, October 25th
5:30 – 7:30 PM
Our Shepherd Lutheran Church
2225 E. 14 Mile Road, Birmingham MI  

You’re invited to our third annual Trunk or Treat Event! Join us for Trunk or Treating, petting zoo, pony rides, and Silly Me the Clown! Food will be available for purchase. Bring family, friends, and neighbors.

VOLUNTEER TO HELP OUT!
Adults and High School students. Shifts available from 4-8 PM. Lutheran Northwest students will receive JOY hours too! Please register at bit.ly/OSLTrunkorTreatVolunteers

 

 

 

 

Posted by Steve Woodfin

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