In an e-mail sent to members and more, Pastor Wenndt shared the following on the current events of society:
“I’M SURE IT HAS NOT ESCAPED THE NOTICE of anyone what has been happening in our nation the last several days. SO much has been said on the topic on just about every side imaginable – except for what I think is the perspective we need to have. Please indulge me as I share with you some important reminders and then some personal thoughts:
- WHILE WE WERE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, we lost that image when mankind fell into sin. But it is being rebuilt in the faith and lives of those who believe in Jesus – though it will not reach its fullness until the end of time. This means that, no matter what we feel about issues on the civic front, as Christians, “The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” [Galatians 2:20] Whatever we do, speak or become a part of, must always reflect the life of faith we now live – THAT is the only life that matters;
- HAVING SAID THAT, as long as we live in this world, we are sinners, in need of the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ. How that sin affects us is different from person to person, but the disease afflicts us all. Because of that, an important first step to answer, ‘How should we respond to all of this?’ is to spend time in prayerful repentance, admitting our own shortfalls, and asking for the freedom and transformed outlook that comes by the forgiveness given on the cross, as well as the power of the Holy Spirit, working and making that faith in us useful, effective and powerful;
- REMEMBER HOW SIN made its first appearances in our world. It started with the lures, lies and deceptions of the devil, that even called into question the motivation(s) of God Himself. The resulting sin brought about finger-pointing, shame and eventually even murder. Indeed, that is exactly where we are again today;
- AND WHAT DID GOD DO ABOUT IT? Yes, there was punishment for all involved, punishment that we continue to bear even today. But more to the point, He clothed Adam and Eve. He gave the promise of a Savior that would crush the head of the serpent. And while He pronounced what would now have to be in terms of childbirth, the fruitfulness of the earth, and even the relationship between man and woman, he has continued to bring His blessings through generations of children; He has continued to make the earth (amazingly!) fruitful; and has set up the family unit of husband and wife that His blessings may be seen, shared, enjoyed and passed on through this special one-ness;
- BY MAKING US HIS PEOPLE, He has given us access to this grace which He showers upon us. We have the promise that whenever two or three are gathered in His Name, there He will be in the midst of us. We have the promise that our prayers will be heard and answered for Jesus’ sake. We have the promised Holy Spirit who not only enlivens our faith but protects it as well. And we have our Lord opening doors for us – doors that allow us to be the light of the world in a world of deep darkness.
SO IN THIS WEEK when we just celebrated Pentecost, we join God’s people in being “cut to the heart” at such events, and asking, “Brothers (and sisters), what shall we do?” Our first step has to be the first word used in answer to the gathered throngs in Jerusalem that day – REPENT. Admit that we live in a fallen world where sin has corrupted us as well, which has us also doing things like pointing fingers, and has some even wanting to rise up and take the lives of others. Open our hearts to the Lord God, He who alone can repair and rebuild the heart pierced by the spear of brutality;
THEN GIVE THANKS that we do live in a country where we have been given freedoms like few others that have ever been. But as St. Paul writes in Galatians 5:13, “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Can we do this in protecting ourselves in such dangerous times? In carrying out peaceful protests? In helping a family or business owner who has taken the brunt of the sting of those who would engage in total lawlessness? In praying with and for those who would otherwise have nothing in their hearts or souls but hatred? The answer to all of these and much more is a resounding “YES!” But the question, “can we?” begs the question, “will we?”;
TO DO THAT, use every one of our senses to try to bring about good. Yes, this means use our eyes and ears to try to see, hear and find opportunities to promote unity, healing and the chance to bring lost souls back to the Gospel, which is where they need to be. Use our arms and legs to carry out those things which need to be restored, cleaned, made whole or useful again. And focus your heart and mind on things that would build up, not tear down;
THAT SAID, because we do live in a country that gives us so many rights, never try to make excuses to justify going beyond those rights. It is certainly understandable that we would show righteous indignation when those we call upon to protect and to serve us as citizens abuse those rights to the point of needlessly taking a life. But we still need those people to carry out their jobs to protect and to serve us for the sake of peace, order and needed stability in what truly is the land of the free. And with laws that now effectively deal with such people that would carry out such ridiculous abuses, even (and especially) for those charged with enforcing our laws, for all of those men and women who do still have to protect and defend our freedoms, give them proper respect, thank them for their service, and follow whatever we are lawfully called upon to do;
FINALLY, IN WHATEVER WE DO, examine our TRUE motivations. Are we protecting ourselves as part of our responsibility to take up the fight against evil and protect the innocent from harm? Or are we simply looking for retribution for some perceived slight we want to “get back” at others for? In the same way, are we protesting to try to make a difference in how things are done in our country, to effect needed changes in laws and whatever else? Or do we see it as our chance to “get even” and do whatever we want? I once read a column that was called, “Ten Commandments for True Protesters.” I’m proud to say that most of the protests carried out by entities of our church body abide by all of the applicable suggestions (like making sure you leave the entire area where you protest better and cleaner than you found it). However, few protests are like that, and almost none that bring about any media coverage. But if we are going to do such things, we should insist upon it – for ourselves, if not for everyone in the group;
FINALLY, FINALLY, be people devoted to prayer – at all times and in all ways. Realistically, that is the ONLY real solution to all of this. And as God clothed Adam and Eve, let us clothe ourselves and each other with the garments of righteousness, as we spend our lives in thanks, praise, service and obedience to Him who has given us all things!
Rev. Thomas Wenndt – Pastor – Faith Lutheran Church – New Port Richey, FL