The church door is open. My wife and I walk inside, take our bulletins, and find a seat. We usually sit in the same general spot. We haven’t varied the pattern much, so I think it might qualify as a habit.
We aren’t the only ones with such a pattern. Thousands share it in different places and different churches. Sometimes I question why I come. But then I ask, “Why not?” Both questions open the possibility of making an excuse to stay away. I don’t let those questions have much of a hearing.
Yet it takes some resolve to come. Like everyone else, I wrestle with so many choices. But I resolve to come. I don’t know for sure if others even think about the pattern and the reason for it. No one knows what someone else thinks. I only know that I have a strong desire to be there.
I come to find that island of comfort where I will hear of Jesus and his forgiveness.
I think in a way different from many others who choose not to come to worship and resist every inclination to come. Originally, I was born hostile to that idea and dead to any thought of God’s love and forgiveness in Jesus, but I have been changed. And I’m not alone. I come to be with people who are examples of the same miracle God has performed within. I’m just one of them.
The Holy Spirit has performed that miracle. He has called me by the gospel and created an entire set of different thoughts and ideas. God’s promises and people who believe them have become more important. I want to live in gratitude for those promises and the people who share them. I value life, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness to God. I want to love others as Jesus directs.
That’s a bit unusual in our troubled world today. Many people think my priorities are just foolish and naïve. And don’t even get into a discussion about giving money to the church. They would pointedly remind me that this is a strange way to meet expenses in challenging economic times. But here too, I have a new and different spirit—a new life—that is grateful for God’s undeserved gifts—all of them. That’s the answer to the why question. I come because I am in awe of what Jesus has done for me—his forgiveness, his protection, his guidance, and his promises of eternal life. I can’t find any of those things anywhere else but in Jesus. The Holy Spirit has given me faith through the gospel to appreciate them and thank God for them.
I need regular reassurance of God’s love. I find myself wondering why all the news is so bad. Why are there so many killings? Or conflict? Or sadness? It’s not just the news, but life itself poses challenges, hardships, heartache, and trouble. I come to find that island of comfort where I will hear of Jesus and his forgiveness. I come to stand against the voices of anger and trouble with the sweet promises of his love for me and of an eternal life where all this noise will be gone. My time with God’s assurances helps me take steps into a chaotic world to live as his disciple.
I know the Holy Spirit still works through the gospel to strengthen me as I face all these things. It doesn’t always seem important, but the gospel in Word and sacrament is my lifeline. Without the gospel, I would not stand long against the blaring messages around me that desire to teach me a different set of priorities. So I come.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 109, Number 09
Issue: September 2022
- We have love - 2022/11/26
- We have hope - 2022/10/29
- Sharing the same faith - 2022/09/30