Dear courageous ones in Christ,
Last month, the pastors of our South Wisconsin District of the LCMS met in Manitowoc for our “Spring” conference. I say “Spring” because the conference started the Monday after the record-breaking snowstorm we all so much enjoyed. Anyway, the main speaker at our conference was Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, the former speaker of The Lutheran Hour. He is now in Washington, D.C. working for the fledgling Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, a non-profit organization designed to protect the religious liberty of Christians, to proclaim the sanctity of life, to lift up the power of faithful and traditional marriage, and to empower schools to bless our children in living as free people for others. Quite a task, wouldn’t you say?
When asked why he left The Lutheran Hour to go work with and among politicians in Washington, D.C., Rev. Seltz gave an interesting answer. He said it has to do with the courage the gospel of the living Christ gives to those who believe. He took us through a brief look at how people, especially the disciples, gained courage from faith in the crucified and risen Christ. For instance, on the very day Jesus died, the Bible says that Joseph of Arimathea, who was a believer in Jesus but secretly for fear of the Jews, took courage to ask Pilate for permission to bury our Lord. He helped take the body of Jesus from the cross not caring who saw him do it. And look at Peter and John, the very disciples of Jesus. On Easter night they were locked in a house for fear of the Jews. Only weeks later, after Jesus
had ascended and then sent the Holy Spirit, they are standing in front of Annas and Caiaphas and others of the Sanhedrin, the very men who condemned Jesus to death, and said to them, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).
Pastor Seltz compared all this to a fire fighter. It takes courage for a fire fighter to run into the fire rather than run away from it. God’s people are called to be fire fighters, to engage the challenges society puts up against the church, and to do so not only for the church’s sake but also for the sake of our communities and neighbors. And we battle the flames with the only weapon God has given—His Word. We teach, we preach, we listen, we respond, we encourage, we rebuke, we take a stand—all in the love of Christ who loved us so much that He ran into the eternal fires of hell for us to bring us safely back to God.
This year, May 20th is Pentecost Sunday. It is the third major festival of the church year. On that day we remember how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples but also how He continues to come to us to give us courageous faith; faith that goes into the fires with the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May He make us to be people of courageous faith in our risen and ascended Lord.