Where the Church is Built

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware now that SCOTUS ruled yesterday that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. Based on media coverage and businesses’s rainbow displays, you would think this ruling was in a strong majority. It wasn’t. The court was once again divided and passed the ruling 5-4.

However, the ruling also doesn’t take me by surprise. I have many friends and family members who fully support the SCOTUS decision. I’ve known where they stand on this issue for many years. But I also have many friends and family members who disagree with this decision.

For those of us who disagree with this decision (and yes, I’m one of them), it’s easy to let our fears run away with us. I have heard fears expressed that our fellow citizens will turn on us for holding an unpopular belief. Or that the government will force the Church to embrace this ruling. . . or else. Or even that this ruling ultimately will bring the fall of Christianity.

It would be easy for me to succumb to these fears. But then I remember that we have always lived in a sinful world, the SCOTUS  decision certainly didn’t bring about sin. We have always been battling the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh. And marriage has been far from perfect for a long time–really, since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. That doesn’t make the SCOTUS ruling okay, just remember that there is nothing new under the sun.

Likewise, it’s important for me to remember that Christianity isn’t about the issue of gay marriage. It’s about love. And not this Love Wins nonsense going around the internet. No, it’s about God showing His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). It’s about the life-giving faith found in the waters of baptism. It’s about the forgiveness of sins given to us in Holy Communion.

Finally, I remember that God’s church doesn’t depend on the United States being a “Christian” country. The Church is built on Christ. He is our cornerstone, not the laws of this nation. I find my peace in this.

Built on the Rock the Church shall stand
Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in ev'ry land;
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the souls distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.

Here stand the font before our eyes,
Telling how God has received us.
The altar recalls Christ's sacrifice
And what His Supper here gives us.
Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim
Christ yesterday, today, the same,
And evermore, our Redeemer.

Grant, then, O God, Your will be done,
That, when the church bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
"I know My own; My own know Me.
You, not the world, My face shall see.
My peace I leave with you. Amen."

-"Built on the Rock" LSB 645:1, 4-5

They’re Just Making This Up

I like Oriental Trading Company.  I grew up flipping through their magazine and watching my mom pick out items to buy for various events.  However, their “Fun and Faith” catalogs are becoming ridiculous–trying to force a cutesy version of Jesus to fit with any occasion and tossing out church traditions that have been around longer than any of their plastic toys.

The most recent example came in my mailbox last week.

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A catalog with an array of pumpkin-themed toys and crafts proclaiming to “Shine with the Light of Jesus”.

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Pages that have trinkets that say things like, “Batty for Jesus” and “Harvesting for Him”.

While I suppose these things aren’t evil or anything, nor am I a hardliner who believes that Christians shouldn’t enjoy the secular traditions of Halloween (how else was I going to build my candy stash as a kid?).  However, it did take me by surprise that the company has worked so hard to reinvent Halloween to make it “Christian” when there are already two church festivals that occur at the same time.

First off, as a good Lutheran I can’t talk about October 31 without mentioning Reformation.  All Hallow’s Eve was the day Martin Luther posted “The Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, or better known as his 95 Theses, on Wittenburg Castle Church.  Consequently, we remember Luther’s work and our assurance of salvation through grace on October 31 (side note: 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses posting.  Mark your calendars for epic celebrations).

Secondly, November 1 is All Saints’ Day.  It’s the day we remember all those who have died in the faith, from Biblical greats like Peter and Paul to loving grandparents.  It’s a beautiful reminder of God’s promise of eternal life during our struggles in this world.  Likewise, it has some awesome hymns.

With 2 church festivals on October 31 and November 1, why make Halloween “Christian”?  I suppose it has to do with marketing.  Little smiling pumpkins are cuter than a monk nailing papers to a door.  “Batty for Jesus” is catchier than “Praying for a blessed end”.  And children will always be attracted to candy and cheap plastic toys.

How do you balance Halloween traditions with church festivals?  

 


Book Review: Broken

talking to people

Well, I’m technically not busy right now, but between some in-depth post ideas, trying to help pull together the seminary wives newsletter, and this weird thing called “actually interacting with people,” I feel like I have about a million things whirling through my brain.  Consequently, today you’re getting my review of Broken:  7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Johnathan Fisk.

I read Broken several weeks ago, quickly calling “dibs” on it as soon as my husband bought it.  It was awesome!  Pastor Fisk takes a close look at our culture today and discusses the root of the problems within our churches instead of attacking the symptoms.  Additionally, he shows that these root problems (a.k.a. the “Christian” rules to be broken) are not new to our culture, but are commonly old heresies that deviate from God’s Word and hide under the guise of modern ideas.  The opening chapter states, “This [disappearance of belief in a pure Word from God] is nothing new.  It has happened before, and it will happen again.  But every time it happens, every time Christianity declines in a society, it happens for the same reason:  because genuine believers tried laying a foundation on something other than God’s Word,” (pg. 14).  With topics like mysticism and prosperity, Pastor Fisk shows how easily we Christians wrongly try to replace God’s Word with something of our own creation.

While Pastor Fisk’s metaphors get a bit long at times, his proclamation of  the Gospel at the end of every chapter bring comfort to any Christian struggling to make sense of our chaotic world and the disturbing trends we see in American Christianity.

Image from amazon.com