|Messiah Lutheran Church||
6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
In New York City, they have an annual "Good Riddance Day" held a few days before the New Year. Participants receive markers and a white sheet of paper, and write down their response to the following sentence, "I want to say good riddance to .... " and then toss their answer into a giant shedder. Into the shredder go bills, names of ex-boyfriends, unwanted pounds, bad attitudes, etc ..
And how appropriate that we should celebrate "Good riddance" day in conjunction with the New Year upon us as members of Messiah Lutheran Church in Chicago, as we reflect on sinful behaviors and habits we want to say "good riddance" to from 2014 and begin afresh in 2015.
We confess past sins committed with penitent hearts and receive God's forgiveness in Christ, conveyed to us in God's Word and Sacraments. Through Jesus' shed blood on the cross, we can say "good riddance" to all our sins!
In fact, each and every day can be looked upon as a "good riddance" day, not just at the start of a new year, as we keep in check our sinful nature, whenever he Is he attempts to come back to life again ..
As Dr. Luther writes in his Small Catechism: " . .in remembrance of our Baptism, the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and again a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever."
A popular button when I was a growing up had the letters, "PBPWMGIFWMY", which stood for the words, ''''Please Be Patient With Me God Isn't Finished With Me Yet!" Yes, God isn't finished with you yet! You can be confident of the promise found in Philippians 1:6, "that he who began a good work in you will bring it on to completion until the day of Christ -Iesus".
Because of His sacrificial death on the cross you can say good riddance to all your sins, for you have been given a new identity in Christ. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 beautifully describes, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come".
Don't let past sins haunt you and bring you down! Even though you have sinned much and have lots of regrets, receive the forgiveness that Jesus purchased for you with His shed blood on the cross. Take assurance in the words of Psalm 103:12 that "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us".
Your identity is not to be shaped by your past sinful behaviors but in the perfection and righteousness that Christ has given you!
May you rejoice in your identity in Christ this New Year as daily you say put off your Old sinful nature and put on the righteousness of Christ, saying "Good Riddance!" to all sin!
As Hebrews 12:1-2 says, " ... .let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God"
The love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and the grace our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the members and friends of Messiah throughout 2015!
This month we will officially begin the LUKE program. Each pastor of the LUKE congregations have been asked to go through the Body Life Basics and Delta book prior to a three day retreat, that will be held Jan 6th-8th at the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Center in Oregon, Illinois.
On the Friday, Jan 9th, there will be a fellowship dinner for the pastors and leaders of the LUKE congregations held at the Suparossa/Biagio Restaurant, 4242 North Central Avenue, starting at 6:00 p.m. Afterward, we are planning on viewing the film documentary, "When God Left the Building". The website (http://whengodleftthebuilding.com) describes the film as follows:
"A pervasive part of the American fabric is fraying and decaying before our eyes. THE CHURCH IS WITHERING.
Though the vast majority (77) of Americans identify themselves as Christians, they have largely stopped attending church. LESS THAN 20 OF THE POPULATION now makes it to church in a typical week. Some 4000 churches are closing every year. It's a major and unprecedented social upheaval.
The film follows a church that has seen its attendance plunge from 900 to 40. In addition to external cultural factors that affect all churches, this church is disintegrating from the inside from a variety of human storms. A pastor who doesn't know who or what God is. Fights over petty things. A faction of angry ex-members that devises a plan to take over the church. .
Throughout the story, cameras also visit other dying churches-as well as innovative new forms of church that are thriving. These range from a ministry in a Pennsylvania pub to an outreach in Los Angeles that brings joy to skid-row moms.
By the end of the film, viewers will EXPERIENCE HOPE and a refreshing glimpse into how faith may be pursued in the future".
On Saturday, the 10th, Jason Pankau will be leading the Omega Experience Conference for the pastors and leaders at Luther North, 5700 West Berteau Avenue. The objective of this conference is leadership training, and will include break-out sessions to discuss specific vision casting for each congregation, as well as signing the covenant to become a LUKE Church. It is important that all our leaders attend!!!
Messiah has been given the honor of hosting the Northern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's "March for Life" for 2015. We will have a worship service, beginning at 11:00 a.m. The theme for my message that day will be "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" based on Genesis 4:1-15. After the service, we will have a luncheon (pizza and drinks). Just to give marchers an idea of the length of the walk, to the best of my knowledge, the route is the same as last year. The starting point is at Federal Plaza at 50 W. Adams and ends at the State of Illinois Building at 100 W. Randolph. Please, plan on joining us as together we take a stand for Life!
If you re-read last month's article, you will see that that my intent of listing our "detached" members was not to publicly shame them (although, if the pew fits, wear itl). As I wrote, ""While, we cannot judge the heart, we are to remind all of our members to be faithful to their confirmation membership vows in being faithful in worship attendance in keeping the third commandment ("Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy") ... ". I was happy to have received information about some of the members that were listed, which will help me and our Board of Deacons in their spiritual care.
As the undershepherd of Messiah, I have been given the sacred responsibility to make sure that all of our members are nourishing their baptismal faith. The Board of Deacons is to assist me in this daunting task.
With that in mind, please contact myself and/or the appropriate Deacon if you have any information that would help us in the spiritual care of the members whom we have not seen in regular worship at Messiah: "that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually" (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).
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