Monday, June 29, 2015

SED Pres, Rev. Denninger, on "SCOTUS" decision


June 27, 2015

My dear Christian sisters and brothers,

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit"
(Romans 15:13).

What many anticipated is now the law of the land. The landmark majority decision by the Supreme Court legalized marriage for same-sex couples across all fifty states. The 5-4 vote among the justices reflects the divided views of the citizens of the United States and even those who come to our LCMS congregations. 

While we begin to feel the tremors of the decision and the aftershocks still to come, this is a result of a nation that has stepped away from it's Judeo-Christian foundations built directly on the bedrock of God's Word. For many decades our nation has been identified as the third largest mission field in the world.  That moniker was awarded as our population made choices to distance itself from God's Word. Decisions made in such a spiritual vacuum, without the benefit of the Word of God, naturally take the people further from God's intended design and loving will. 

The decision of the Supreme Court makes the ministry of your congregation even more significant. No matter what the law of the land, God's Word accomplishes what He wills. Through the power of the Holy Spirit:
  • Our Father's loving plan for all His children is revealed in Holy Scriptures
  • We learn of His great sacrifice in giving His Son for each of us
  • Our hearts are shaped to look more like Jesus through Word and Sacrament
  • We learn to love our neighbors with the Lord's great love
Through this means, the lives of people, their marriages and families are shaped according to God's wisdom and His loving design. 

My friends, while the Supreme Court's decision is now one day old, there will be many reactions for years to come. Future SED gatherings will give opportunity for theological discussion and practical tools for providing pastoral care and response. While shaping immediate response, I pray each of us will be known in the community as followers of Jesus who remain faithful to God's Word and active in demonstrating His love, even with those who disagree with us. It is important to remember many of the families in our congregations are directly impacted by this decision.  Our initial responses written on social media and voiced out loud may either open or close the door for ministry in the future to people around us. 

Please reflect on Paul's words, with which this letter began.  
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit"
(Romans 15:13).

Paul wrote these words to a Christian congregation in an empire that was antagonistic to Jesus, and His Word. Nonetheless, Paul encouraged them to be filled with God-sent hope. Our trust is in God.  With full-hearted faith pray for our nation, our leaders, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, and the institution of marriage and family. Be assured the Lord of the Church will use even this situation to advance His Kingdom into the hearts of His precious children. The darker it gets, the brighter His Light shines. Our hope founded in God, leads to an infectious joy and a deep-hearted peace. In every response may we be known as the people who are overflowing with faith, hope, and love through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

In the royal service of the King,
John R. Denninger, President
Southeastern District, LCMS

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