Six months ago, if anyone would have suggested that we would be living in southwest Minnesota, I would have been inclined to chuckle. We were firmly ensconced in Leadville, Colorado, where I was serving as the pastor of a small congregation, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
Leadville has the pleasure of being the highest incorporated city in North America. Outside our back door you could see the highest peak in the state. The view was beautiful, especially because there was little air to block the scenery.
God, in His infinite wisdom, has allowed us to move to a place which has many things we did not have in Leadville, the foremost being oxygen and moisture. These make a difference.
Though the scenery has changed, you can actually see for miles without rocks getting in the way, the message of the church is still the same. We preach Christ and Him crucified. It is the heart and core of everything we do.
The primary reason that any congregation exists is to bring the peace of God to this sin-sickened world. Be it disease, personal tragedy, or destructive weather, all creation is twisted by our sin. When our first parents defied God by eating that which was forbidden, creation itself was harmed. What was once a paradise turned deadly.
The peace of God is this, our heavenly Father sent His Son to pay the price of our sin. By grace alone we are given the gift of forgiveness which brings us eternal life. This forgiveness we do not earn, nor can we ever repay. As John the Evangelist wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Now, this isn’t to say the Christians get a free pass from all the problems in the world. Far from it. But we do have a different view on the death and destruction caused by sin. We know it is not God’s plan, but that we should be eternally blessed by living with Him. While we still are in this sinful flesh, we will suffer the effects of our transgression. We believe, teach, and confess, however, that we have a new life in Christ Jesus. The old hymn reminds us, “I am but a stranger here, heaven is my home.”
Meanwhile, we are privileged to serve God by serving our neighbors. One of the post-communion collects we use includes the petition that the reception of Jesus’ body and blood in and under the bread and wine will “strengthen our faith towards You and our fervent love for one another.”
That is the message and comfort I was privileged to bring the good folk at Good Shepherd, Leadville. That is the message I am privileged to bring to Trinity.
We pray that we are able to serve this congregation and Slayton in accordance with God’s will, and to His glory.