Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634

November 2018

Appreciating Our Church

Last month (October) was pastor appreciation month. And I'm honored to be the pastor of Messiah and appreciate all the different ways you have encouraged and supported me not just for a month but over the years.

However, I also have to confess that I've not always been so deserving of your appreciation, especially when I have allowed my sinful nature to get in the way of being a loving and faithful pastor to Messiah and her members.

In fact, I'm often convicted by the following words of advice that the now sainted Rev. Dr. Robert Preuss gave to the candidates who were just about to receive their first call in a sermon preached for the Winter Call Service on February 4th, 1986 at Kramer Chapel at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne:

Let me conclude with a little table talk from Luther. I hope you like your call! I know you will. Now if there are a few things about it you don't like, remember this little story of Luther's. He was talking about his wife, Katy. And he said, 'She is not a very good looking woman: If you've ever seen her picture, I think you'll agree with him. 'And she's not a particularly bright woman. She's not the most spiritual woman I've ever met. But God gave her to me. And she's mine. And I love her: And that will be your attitude as you posture, your attitude as you enter the ministry to preach the Word to your congregation.

For, there are times when I may not have demonstrated such a loving attitude for Messiah and her members. And I've failed to keep in mind that God has given Messiah Lutheran Church in Chicago to be the pastor. And I'm to love her.

Of course, just as there is no such thing as a perfect pastor, there is no such thing as a perfect congregation. As a recent seminary grad's wife responded when she was asked how her husband was . doing at his church, "Oh, he loves the ministry. It's the people he can't stand!"

All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. And whenever you bring imperfect people together in a voluntary organization like Messiah, there are going to be personality differences and dashes. Hence, so 1 Peter 4:8 wisely advices, "Above all love one another deeply, because love covers overs over a multitude of sins".

Not that we brush our sins under a rug and simply ignore them. But we readily confess our sins before God and each other with penitent hearts, receive God's forgiveness won for us in Jesus Christ, and seek with the help of the Holy Spirit to "go and sin no more".

As 1 John 1:8-9 tells us, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

And as a result, we are able to "cover over a multitude of sins" with the clothes of Christ's righteousness and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to truly forgive each other as God has forgiven us.

No longer are we to bring up past sins or harbor grudges. And consequently, we are now able to pray the Fifth Petition of the Lord's Prayer, "And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us", the way God intends it to be prayed.

As Luther's Small Catechism explains:

We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny

our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

Recently, I heard a retired pastor say that when he was younger he desired to serve a large church. And eventually he went on to serve relatively larger churches in growing suburbs throughout most of his years in the ministry.

But in hindsight, he said if he were to take a call again his desire would be to simply serve a loving church, no matter how big the size or what the setting.

And what a great goal for us to have at Messiah! To be known as a loving congregation, where the members truly love God and each other.

One of the draws of the early church was not only how they demonstrated their love for God to the point that many were martyred for their faith, but also the extravagant love they showed to each other.

And in today's culture, where so many people are looking for love in all the wrong places, just think of the witness we can have to those who are longing to be part of a loving community like Messiah, and ultimately come to know and experience the unconditional love that God has for them in Jesus Christ that we have to share with them.

1 John 4:19 tells us that "We love, because He first loved us". And the greatest proof of God's love for us is in sending His only begotten Son to suffer and die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. And as recipients of God's love and forgiveness in Christ we in turn are able to love and forgive one another,

Recently, we distributed updated membership directories and hopefully you have at copy of your own by now (if not, ask for one I). And I invite you to join me in praying for the members of Messiah by name is part of your daily prayers, especially those members who have specific needs and requests, As James 5:16 tell us, " ... pray for each other so that you may be healed."

By the seemingly simple act of praying for each other by name on a daily basis we

May the Holy Spirit work in Messiah Lutheran Church the same supernatural love for each other that God has shown to us. As 1 John 3:1 tells us, "Behold the manner of love the Father has given us that we should be called the sons of God".

May we appreciate even more the gift God has given us, both pastor and laity alike, in Messiah Lutheran Church in Chicago where God's Word is taught in all its truth and purity and the sacraments are rightfully administrated.

And the privilege we've been given as God's Holy people to be graciously served by our loving Savior through Word and Sacrament in our worship services, causing us to sing, "Oh, how blessed is this place, filled with solace, light and grace!"

Beloved members of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chicago, in the words of Psalm 34:3, "Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together!"

Love in Christ,
Pastor Wendt

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