Monday, July 11, 2005

Foundations of Confessional Lutheranism

Greetings in Christ,

Last month, I talked to you about a theme for the year 2005. That theme was Building Bridges. There were three different aspects to the theme. The first aspect was how God the Father has built a bridge down to us through His Son Jesus’ death on a cross and resurrection from the grave. We can approach God now with freedom and confidence. The second aspect of Building Bridges was the importance of working at our relationship with other members. Satan tries to tear down the bridges that we have with them. We need to continually work at fostering our current relationships and also work at building new ones. Thirdly, we talked about the mission of the church which is to build bridges to the community and to the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we know, every bridge has to have a strong foundation. Without it, the bridge will not stand the test of time and will fall down. So, in coordination with the theme Building Bridges, I have chosen six foundation posts, as it were, for our church- six things that make our church unique and relevant in our world today. My hope is that these foundations will continue to remain strong at St. John’s.
1) The Bible. There is no better place to start. God’s Holy Word is the sole source and norm for all teaching. God lovingly gave us His Word to teach us about himself and His love for all mankind in and through His Son Jesus Christ. We go to His Word for comfort, strength and power for living. God’s Word has always been a foundation for us as Lutherans and I pray that it will always be a strong foundation of our church in the years ahead.
2) Our Lutheran Confessions. As a Lutheran Church, our Confessions are also vitally important to our mission and ministry. We have always believed in the importance of clearly stating what we believe, teach and confess according to God’s Word. The Book of Concord, our written confession, is a clear statement of our doctrinal positions on a whole range of issues. It includes “the Small and Large Catechism, the Augsburg Confession” and many other wonderful documents. These document remain just as relevant today as they ever have been. If you are interested in obtaining a Book of Concord, let me know.
3) The Historic Lutheran Liturgy, Worship and Hymnody. In the Christian church today, you see various ways of worshipping the Lord. The Lutheran Church has always believed in the importance of the Historic liturgy and hymnody. It allows God to primarily give us His gifts and secondarily it allows us to give thanks for those gifts. The Lutheran Church has never thought of worship as being entertainment. It is God’s means for bringing us into His presence to bless, heal and uplift our hearts and minds for service to God in our world today.
4) Traditional/Conservative Values. No one would argue that our society has changed in regards to morality and behavior over the last 25 years. What was once considered obscene and inappropriate is viewed today as acceptable and a constitutional right. The Lutheran Church has, since its inception, believed in the sanctity of life at the beginning and end of life. We have always opposed abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriages. These issues tend to get politicized, but to us they are issues of conscience. It is important for us that we don’t allow society to dictate our morality. It is also important that we stand up for what we believe but we do so in a lovingly and compassionate manner.
5) Practicality. Something that is always on my heart and mind as a pastor is trying to bring the faith to bear in our everyday life. Living the Christian life today is extremely hard. There are numerous pitfalls and temptations to avoid. Satan is there at every turn to lead us astray. Our worship, Bible study and fellowship should then lead us to faithful and faith-filled living. The Holy Spirit through the Word changes our mind as well as our heart and encourages us to give evidence of our faith to the world around us.
6) Love for Others and Spreading the Gospel to all nations. Again, the Lutheran Church has always believed in the importance of reaching out to all nations with the Gospel. It is not okay for us to hold onto the pure Gospel and not share it with others. May the Holy Spirit continue to motivate us so that we powerfully take the Gospel outside of our church. May we always have a deep love for others who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Building Bridges is our theme for 2005. God has blessed our church with a very solid foundation. We are at a time in our history to do some most important work. May God continue to bless our ministry and strengthen our foundations so that He is glorified.

In Christ,

Pastor Haugen


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