(This is the description for the All Saints’ Day Celebration at Bethany Lutheran – Naperville, Illinois that was printed in the bulletin this morning. The dinner was great. Your editor feasted on scalloped corn and smoked ham, while others enjoyed Swedish meatballs, potato casserole, sauerkraut and tables full of other old-fashioned delicacies. Neither Charlie Henrickson nor Eric Stefanski showed up so there was no lutefisk nor Thai brats. See yesterday’s post and comments for an explanation.)
Why did we title our All Saints’ Day theme for 2009 “This is Your Grandfather’s Church?” The answer is in the subtitle: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. He is still God who became man for us at the Incarnation. He is still the One who died for our sins on the terrible cross on Good Friday. He is still the Resurrected Lord who rose from the dead on Easter. He is still the Ascended King who ascended to the right hand of the Father at Ascension, and whose return we eagerly await. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Since He is the same; the message we proclaim will be the same. The preaching of Law to condemn sins and the proclamation of the Gospel for the forgiveness of sins was not an innovation made to bring people into the church. It is the truth. Our grandfathers needed to hear Law and Gospel, so do we. So will our children.
And the Gospel is delivered in the same way today as it was to our grandfathers, and their grandfathers before themâ€”through the Means of Grace. God’s Word and Sacraments deliver the forgiveness of sins that Christ won for us on the cross. We rejoice in the same forgiveness of sins delivered in the same way as it was to our grandfathers and generations before them. It is the same Word, the same Absolution, the same Lord’s Supper that bring life and salvation to God’s baptized people today and brought life and salvation to our grandfathers.
There are those in the Church today who might say, “This is not your grandfather’s church.” They will say that to reach people today we have to change our worship. They will also say things like, “We have to do away with our creeds. Our churches should look more like an auditorium. We have to preach on topics that church seekers want to hear about. We have speak more about relationships and less about doctrine.” They think that today’s people are really quite different than our grandfathers.
But our grandfathers lived in a world that was far different from their grandfathers. Yet they did not clamor for a Glenn Miller liturgy or demand that church songs resemble Elvis singles. Instead they faithfully heard the Word and received the Sacraments. The problem of sin is much older than our grandfathers and will remain much longer than our grandchildren should Christ tarry. And the grace of Christ that comes in Word and Sacrament still is present with us today and will sustain our grandchildren.
We rejoice today that we share our Grandfathers’ Churchâ€”a church founded on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.