Like a Train
And so, like a long and lumbering train, the Church pulls into the station at All Saints' Day in the year of our Lord, 2021.
To capitalize the "c" in "church" to make the word "Church," we are usually confessing/talking about what is bigger than Calvary, bigger than any congregation, Synod, or denomination. We are confessing the long train of faith, the saints called by the Gospel and enlightened with God's gifts, wherever they may be found.
One car attaches to another. Surely you will remember your dearest friends from Calvary and from your family or elsewhere who have gone before us to sleep in Christ. Take this comfort today: the heavenly Father who started this all is irrevocable and unshakeable. His Word endures forever and is actively connecting us. By contrast, the word of humans routinely disconnects our "cars." For the salesman, people are divided into prospective clients, maybes, and improbable clients/people not interested or capable of buying the product or service. For politicians--we just had an election, so this is fresh--we are people to be won over for a vote. These are well and good, in their place. But when they become an all-consuming habit, they pull away from God's tracks onto rocky, dangerous ground.
Newcomers to our fellowship are not prospective clients or members. While, yes, we work hard to welcome all to our fellowship, ultimately what's going on spiritually is deeper. They, like we, are being called by the Spirit of God which is building us together like living stones, as St. Peter was fond of saying. And it's all for following directly after the Locomotive, Christ Jesus our Lord, begotten by the Father and running on the steam of the Word:
We are "being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (I Peter 2:5)
"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation [SAINTS], a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;" (2:9)
"For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps, while being abusively insulted, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He did not threaten, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed.
For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." (2:21-25 NASB)
We live in an age when "sin" is relegated to the realm of "mistakes" and certainly never trumps personal feeling. If it feels right, do it. This is not the Way. We follow the saints in the long train of martyrs who did not die for a culturally-acceptable faith, but for a faith that spoke truth in sacrificial love and grace.
Thankful for His power, presently protecting us (I Peter 1:5),