Friday, May 7, 2010

Doom and Gloom and Not

If you read some of the blogs and follow up on things -- even here, perhaps -- it is easy to get the impression that things are very bad in the Church of Jesus Christ and that it is time for another Great Reformation or else the whole thing will go to hell in a handbag... as they say...

Let me say that for all the things I address that are not as they should be, I am not a doom and gloom person.  I do not spend my time wringing my hands and shaking my head in dismay.  Sure, some things confound, confuse, and conflict me.  Sure, I get frustrated and even weary -- but that is not most of the time nor is it even much of the time.  For all the things that we might lament here on this blog or in other forums and for all those who might believe it is time to leave a singing ship or head out in the sea of faith in a lifeboat, I am not one of them.

I know that the vast majority of parishes in my Synod and in the Church as a whole are people gathered around the Word and Sacrament of the Lord.  There may be liturgical problems, theological issues, ministry troubles, and fellowship cracks that all pull against the fabric of the Church but that fabric was woven not by the words or actions of man -- that fabric was woven by the Lord through His Word that accomplishes His purpose and His Sacraments that bestow and nurture our life in His Kingdom.  This fabric is resilient and pulls back into its Divinely intended shape against the hands of man trying to distort or reshape what God has made.

The Church of Jesus Christ does not depend upon any of the structures of present day church bodies continuing as they are now or changing to be something different -- the Church is constituted by the Word of God calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying the sinner to be His own child by baptism.  The Church is sustained and grows by that same Word that goes forth in the voices and actions of the people who have been marked in baptism's waters and set apart for their vocation as His priestly people who serve the world in His name.  The Church is nurtured by the Word of absolution that calls the fallen to come back and restores them by grace bigger than any sin and by the Table where every week the unworthy are called to the higher seat by the God whose love deigns to serve us when it should be the other way around.

I am buoyed and encouraged every week by standing in vestments as Christ to my people, knowing that Christ is working through me not as a holy man leading the unholy to become like him but as the God whose voice speaks through His unholy and unworthy servants and who has designed His Church to use sinful men as Pastors and agents of His amazing grace.  Every week I speak to those at the rail :"The Body of Christ for you n_____________" and they are fed both physically and spiritually on the incarnate grace of Jesus Himself.

I am not a doom and gloom personality.  I am not naive or foolish and do not minimize the problems and challenges before us but my confidence rests in the fact that the Church does not belong to Larry Peters or to any man (elected or appointed or not).  The Church belongs to Jesus Christ and He is the guarantor of her life, her holiness, her fruitfulness, and her faithfulness.  God is faithful.  He will do it.  His methods try my understanding but God has not called me to understand Him.  His ways test the limits of my reason but God never promised to be reasonable.  God is faithful, doing what He has promised through His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is where my faith is deposited -- in God's faithfulness -- and this is the call to my faith -- to be faithful in trust to Him whose faithfulness bids me.

So you will hear some complaints from me and frustrations and some rants and raves and vents as well... but you will not hear doom and gloom.  If you do, send me an email linked to this post.  Because it is the Lord's Church we cannot ever give in to this doom and gloom... for it represents not merely a maximizing of the problems but a rejection of Christ's Lordship...

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Fr. Peters,

Amen, and amen.

Even though Lutherans are not (supposed) to be Dispensational, I think partly a kind of malaise has spread over us from this theological view.

What instead I am gloomy about after being "rescued" from that theology is the death that surrounds us, both physical and spiritual. The results of Adam's and our sin are the things that should make us gloomy.

BUT not for long. As children of our Lord, the HOPE born of our salvation pulls us out of the doom. We should be people who are NOT (doom and gloom) because of the suffering and death and resurrection of Christ.

Just another way we give a wrong or bad impression to the world...