Our May 9 Mother’s Day Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The May 16 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. We will still be wearing masks, social distancing and lots of hand sanitizer, but we will be open.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Acts 10:44-48 | Psalm 98
1 John 5:1-6 | John 15:9-17
“You did not choose me, but I chose you.” This is a theme which echoes many times throughout the scriptures. God first chooses Abraham. In the wilderness, under Moses and many times through the writings of the prophets, God tells the Israelites, “I chose you.” Sometimes, even tells them why, “Because you were the least of people, and so would have no reason to boast.” That makes it a bit humbling!
Now, in these lessons, again, we hear the words, addressed to the disciples by Jesus, “I chose you.” Quite simply, God has chosen us first, we did not choose God. God made the first move, acted first towards us. Indeed, we cannot move towards God unless God has first moved to us (sin gets in the way). This is part, and the basis, for what is called the Doctrine of Election. God elects to call us. God elects all people to be saved. The whole idea of a covenant in the Old Testament (and continuing into the New)… a great and powerful one enters into a special relationship with someone of lower degree (usually a master with a slave). The covenant is always initiated by the powerful one. In our case, God has made a covenant with us, the new covenant, which is Christ’s covenant, the cross.
We are called by God through the Gospel. The Holy Spirit opens us up through the hearing of the Gospel to receive faith. It is again God choosing us. Faith is a gift. “Have you decided to make Jesus Christ your personal Lord and Savior?” is a meaningless question. Some groups do love to ask that question. I think that some may feel that it gives them some power, or contribution, in their salvation. Personally, it drives me nuts. “No. God chose me first.” That usually leaves people with a stunned look on their faces. We are chosen first. We did not earn it, period. It was given to us. That is why it is very wrong to compare our faith with others. Faith is not a quantifiable substance, really. It is a gift. A person either has it or not. There is not really more or less faith. Although I will allow for remembered or forgotten faith. In times of crises, in particular, people will either cling to faith, or kind of misplace it. We do not really control this gift. Although we must be open to receive it. Luther on the Doctrine of Free Will: Do we have free will? Yes horizontally, as to the things of this world, we have absolute and total free will. But No when it comes to vertically, pertaining to things of heaven. Why? God moves first. And God moves towards us through others. We must first hear the Gospel, like the Ethiopian eunuch last week, from another. When we share the Gospel message with others, God moves through us to others. That is the importance of evangelism.
And then Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
It is in faith that we abide in Christ, and in his love. We are chosen, called through the Gospel. But, it does not end there. Look again at the witness of scriptures. God always moves first. Salvation, grace, gift, always comes first, then the expectation. For example, the Israelites are first brought out of slavery in Egypt, then, they are given the 10 Commandments, the Law of the Covenant, their expectations.
We are chosen first, saved first. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been saved already. We have been declared righteous in God’s eyes already. We are saved by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. Now, we have the expectations, what is expected of us. Salvation always precedes sanctification – and “good works.” That is why Lutherans in particular reject what is affectionately called “Works Righteousness.” It is impossible for us until God moves first.
The expectations which are laid upon us, Christ’s commandments, today may be summed up into one, “That you love one another as I have loved you.” That is a difficult one. For Christ gave everything for us in love, to the point of the cross. We are now called to the same task to each other. Our faith is to be active in acts of love to each other. For now, we are called friends of Christ, not just servants. More than that, we are now Children of God. Now, we are part of God’s plan—evangelists, ministers, ambassadors of Christ. When that is realized, then our joy is completed. For then we share in Christ’s joy, which has now been perfected. Then we will realize “What Wondrous Love is This.” It
kind of throws a new light on the words of the hymn that we just sang, doesn’t it?