Gather, Nurture, Serve
Gather, Nurture, Serve
Gather - Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, and Childcare is brought into being by the Gospel. Apart from the preaching and teaching of the Gospel the church does not exist. The Holy Spirit works through the Gospel in calling us out of the darkness of condemnation into the marvelous light of Christ’s saving work. We gather in worship at Our Shepherd to receive God’s gracious gifts. Jesus regularly used plural verbs and pronouns as He spoke to the disciples in the upper room (Matthew 26:26-29 and parallels). St. Paul wrote to the whole church in Corinth and in his other letters. The church is both many people and one in Christ. We do not worship alone. We do not meet only our private needs in worship. In the cup of blessing and in the breaking of bread we participate in fellowship with Christ. Though we are many, we are one in Christ. When we gather in worship at Our Shepherd, we do so in fellowship with one another and with all believers in all places and times. We continue to stir up one another to love and good works through gathering together in the name of Christ. I am reminded of how the writer of Hebrews saw the mutual encouragement that happens in meeting together, “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 10:25). With joy in the promises of God in Christ Jesus, we gather in worship and prayer at Our Shepherd.
If there is any conflict or cause for division in our gathering, then pray for our most gracious Father to fill us with all truth and peace. Where we are corrupt, seek God’s purifying presence. If there is any error, seek the Spirit to guide us to truth. If we are missing the target, reform our aim. Seek God’s presence to heal any breaches that have developed in our fellowship.
Nurture - For Our Shepherd to be a place that nurtures faith we seek to be people that build up one another in the body of Christ. The ultimate purpose of our nurture is to know the Lord and do His will. We do not naturally grow in our discipleship by ourselves. Based on this misconception, some people pay minimum attention to Christian education. The Holy Spirit nurtures the church through the Word of God. If a congregation is well established or fledging, the Lord will work through the Word to build it up. Another misconception about nurturing the faith is that the children of believing parents will learn the Christian faith simply by observing them. God has given to us His Word to pass from one generation to the next our faith. When we share our faith with the next generation, some will be concerned that we are indoctrinating or brainwashing our children. Teaching doctrine or teaching the Bible is a good and essential thing. When we share the basis for our faith with another person, we provide them something like GPS or a map into how we walk each day in faith. Listen to the Word of God, and share the promises of God with others. The Holy Spirit builds us up through worship services, studying together in Bible study meetings, and as each of us sharpens another through sharing faith and life together.
Serve - We love God and serve our neighbor. Christian service is built on the foundation that Christ is our redemption. Through our faith in Christ we are completely free and not subject to anyone. Also through faith in Christ, a Christian is a servant of all, subject to all. Martin Luther wrote in 1520, On the Freedom of the Christian, we owe no one anything, except to love one another. We owe no one anything for our salvation. Our salvation has been secured by Christ Jesus. We become righteous, free, and holy in Christ. The Word does it all. One thing alone is necessary for the Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is faith in the gospel of Christ. This freedom we find in Christ does not inspire us to a life of leisure but rather calls us to seek opportunities to love and care for others.
Our Shepherd gathers, nurtures, and serves because Jesus loves.