CROSS ROADS NOVEMBER 2015
LAMB OF GOD LUTHERAN CHURCH
Everyone should know by now that I have accepted the Divine Call to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Newark, Delaware. This marks, not only a “new chapter” in the life of Kitty and I, but also a “new chapter” in the life of Lamb of God. November 15 will be our last Sunday here.
The seventeen years Kitty and I have lived in Spartanburg is the longest time we have lived anywhere since we have been married. We love the town and we especially love the people at Lamb of God. You will often be in our prayers.
For Lamb of God, the future is just as unseen as is the future for me and Kitty. I’m sure there will be many prayers ascending to God about that future, that new chapter.
Chapters follow one after the other. They build on top of each other. It doesn’t matter if it is a novel or a mathematics text book. So it is with this new chapter in our lives. It will be built on the past.
This past is a history of many blessings from God. From its very beginning Lamb of God has been a word and sacrament ministry. It has touched lives with the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Lamb of God was the first racially integrated church in South Carolina. Lamb of God created and sponsored the anti-slavery (human trafficking) resolution that passed at the Synod convention several years back. Lamb of God has seen baptisms, confirmations, and the reception of new converts throughout its history. We have stood together at gravesides. We have lifted our voices together to the throne of God in prayer. We have sung hymns together. We have confessed our faith together. We have participated in more mercy efforts than I can count. We have studied the Word of God together. We have eaten together, laughed together and cried together.
Such blessings from God stay with you. They make us who we are today. So, as the members of Lamb of God pray about their future, don’t forget that God has richly blessed you to this point in time. He will continue to stay with Lamb of God through word and sacrament.
I am reminded of how the book of Jude ends. “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25). Yes, this wonderful Savior will be with this church long after Kitty and I leave and will deliver you into his glorious presence.
Laban said to Jacob, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another's sight” (Genesis 31:49). So I say also, may the Lord watch over us when we are out of sight and bless us to be a blessing wherever he sends us as we begin these new chapters in our lives.
Blessings in Christ
The Nicene Creed
Second Article, Part 21
And [I believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.
Last month, I ended this article by saying I’d provide some quotes from the Church Fathers about the phrase “who for us men.” I’m going to include the second half of the phrase, “and for our salvation.” I will then provide some brief comments on the rest of the Creed. I’m doing this because, as everyone knows, I’ve accepted a Call to Our Redeemer in Newark, DE, and so this will actually be the last article in this series. Now, on with the quotes.
Will the heretic also taunt him with the manger, though it was by means of this that he himself, when devoid of reason, was nourished by the Word? Will he reproach the poverty of the carpenter’s son who was not furnished with a bed? That is why the Son is inferior to the Father; because for your sake he became dead, to free you from the mortality and make you partake of the heavenly life. It is just as if one should find fault with a physician for bending down to sickness and breathing its stench, in order that he may heal the suffers.
Basil of Caesarea, Letter 8.5
According to his human nature, Jesus is inferior to the Father, as we confess in the Athanasian Creed, “equal to the Father with respect to His divinity, less than (inferior to) the Father with respect to His humanity.”
For he whom you now treat with contempt was once above you. He who is now man was once the Uncompounded. What he was, he continued to be. What he was not, he took to himself. In the beginning he was, uncaused; for what is the cause of God? But afterward for a cause he was born. And that cause was that you might be saved, who now insult him and despise his Godhead, because of this, that he took on him your denser nature, having conversed with flesh by means of mind, with his inferior nature, the humanity, became God because it was united to God and became one person because the higher nature prevailed … He was born, but he had been begotten. He was born of a woman, but she was a virgin. The first is human; the second, divine. In his human nature he had no father, but also in his divine nature, no mother.
Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 29.19
God the Word restored Man [humanity] in himself, his ancient handiwork, that he might bring death to sin, strip death of its power, and give life to Man.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.18.7
There is one God, who by his Word [the Son] and Wisdom [the Holy Spirit] made and ordered all things. … His Word is our Lord Jesus Christ, who in these last times became man among humankind, that he might unite the end with the beginning, that is, humankind with God. Therefore the prophets received from this same Word their prophetic gift. They proclaimed his advent in the flesh, by which was effected the mingling and uniting of God and humankind according to the Father’s pleasure. For the Word of God foretold from the beginning that God would be seen by humans and would live with them on earth and converse with them. It foretold that he would be present with his creatures to bring salvation to them and be seen by them. It also foretold that he would free us “from the hands of those who hate us,” that is, from the whole spirit of transgression, and would make us “serve him all our days in holiness and righteousness.” It foretold that humanity, taking to itself the Spirit of God, should pass to the glory of the Father.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.20.4
As I said earlier, this is the last article on the Nicene Creed. The rest of the Second Article expands on the phrase “for us men and for our salvation” by sharing how Jesus did this, that is through his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension. The final act (so to speak) of our salvation will occur when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. At that point in time we will be raised with glorified bodies and enter a tangible “kingdom,” where we will live with God, the angels, the Church from throughout the ages, and whatever else God has in this glorified place.
The Third article deals with the Holy Spirit and his work. He spoke through the prophets, he creates the One Holy Christian and Apostolic Church, he grants us forgiveness of sins through baptism and he will raise us up on that glorious Last Day to full eternal life, both body and soul.
The Nicene Creed is one of the best ever epitomes of central doctrines taught us in the Bible. If anyone should ever ask you what you believe as a Lutheran Christian, it is always appropriate to respond with the Nicene Creed. Indeed, every Christian should be able to claim this creed as an expression of their deep conviction, their heartfelt faith.
While I am leaving Lamb of God to go to Delaware, I still think my customary closing verse applies: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Amen.
NEWS AND NOTES
Rev. Bill Seaman spoke with us on October 12 and gave us various options for how the congregation might proceed now that Pastor Rickert has accepted the call to Our Redeemer in Delaware. There will be a Voters’ meeting Sunday, November 1, for the congregation to make a decision concerning those options. The Church Council favors the option of being led in a self-evaluation by Rev. Seaman, but the decision will be made by the voters at this meeting. Please keep the meeting in your prayers and plan to attend the meeting. It will be held after the worship service.
Rev. Seaman encourages us to daily and intentionally pray for pastor, the ministry of the congregation, the congregation itself, and for one another by name.
Our blog has been maintained by Pastor Rickert. He will be leaving South Carolina in the middle of November. We need a volunteer to keep it current. Over the last 30 days we have had over 4,000 visits to the blog, so it is reaching people. Keeping it up will include posting the newsletter and updating the calendar of events. Speak with pastor and he can put you in as an administrator and guide you through the process. Pastor plans to leave the blog to the church.
Women’s Bible Fellowship
Women’s Bible Fellowship meets every other Wednesday. The next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, October 28. However, pastor and Kitty will be out of state house hunting. So the next time the ladies are scheduled to meet will be Wednesday, November 11.
Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study
Sunday morning, at 9:00 am, we gather to study what the Word of God says. Currently we being guided by the study from the Lutheran Spirituality series titled Word – God Speaks to Us. Join us each Sunday and dig into the Word.
Praying for Our Neighbors
We have been praying for the people in our neighborhoods. What a wonderful way to reach out with God’s love in Christ Jesus. As you walk your neighborhoods and speak with your neighbors, why not share what you are doing. Many will be happy to give you specific prayer requests. Keep up the good work. “As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
Daylight Savings Time
We go off Daylight Savings Time Sunday, November 1, at 3:00 am. Clocks “fall” back. In other words, set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed October 31. You get an “extra” hour of sleep.
Pastor Rickert’s final Sunday at Lamb of God will be November 15. Kitty and Pastor will be moving to Delaware that coming week. If you desire to follow their “continuing adventures,” his new church does have a web presence. You can find it at http://ourredeemernewark.org/.
There are many ways to serve our Lord on Sunday mornings; usher, providing refreshments, altar (setting up for communion and changing the altar paraments), reading the scripture lessons, providing flowers, and cleaning the church come quickly to mind. Everyone is encouraged to sign up for one or more of these service opportunities.
The sermons delivered at Lamb of God are currently available by going to the sermon page. The link to that page is on the right-hand side of the blog.
If you think a sermon is particularly good, you might even want to share it on one of your social media platforms, like Facebook. That way you can help share the Good News of Christ Jesus, our Lord. An easy way to share the video is to find it on YouTube and click the share button for the social media of your choice.
Our next Elders meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10, at 1:00 pm.
Arbor’s Homeowners Meeting
The Arbor’s Homeowners Association will again be using our facility for their meeting. It will be Tuesday, November 10, at 6:30 pm.
What’s Coming Sunday?
Normally Pastor posts information about the upcoming Sunday’s worship service on our blog by Thursday. Check it out at: www.Lutheran-in-SC.blogspot.com. There are, of course, many other posts. One way we can reach out with the love of God in Christ Jesus is by linking various posts to your Facebook page, or other social media that you might use. As it stands right now, Facebook is the number two source of people linking to our blog.
We need a volunteer to do our newsletter. It will mean making sure people submit information for the newsletter and putting it together. To put it on-line they will have to coordinate with the blog volunteer.
Lamb of God Lutheran Church
"Sharing the Love of Jesus"
1645 Fernwood-Glendale Road
Spartanburg, SC 29307
Rev. Dr. John Rickert, Pastor
Our Mission Statement:
Because of God's grace, love and mercy,
we the people of God at Lamb of God Lutheran Church,
believe that God has called us through his Holy Word,
to reach out and touch people with the
Love of Jesus Christ.