Great Stuff — Desperate Times don’t Demand Desperate Measures – Keep Calm and Reform On

Found over on blogs.LCMS.org:

 

Keep-Calm-Reform-OnThere is no doubt this was a difficult Summer for Christians in America. It felt like one blow after another on our religious freedoms. There were landmark decisions regarding marriage, and many embattled consciences over the abortion industry being exposed for what it is.

So too, we watched from afar in horror as our Christian brothers and sisters were murdered in the Middle East by a militant religion bent on extinction, and now these militants are on our own soil. Cities and churches alike burned to the ground as violence erupted.

Fields flooded, fires engulfed, droughts scorched the earth, markets crashed, and study after study announced the demise of the Christian Church in America as we know it. And there were no shortage of sex scandals, celebrity marital break ups, or other nefarious bad news, as evil becomes the new cool. Dark for light, evil called good, up is down.

For many it would certainly seem that we are in the dark and latter days and now find ourselves in the end of days. Or at the very least we begin to wonder if we will be refugees, outlaws, and even exiles in our own lands. Is it time to lose hope, is it time for desperate measures? Do we fade away into the culture or make a run for it? Is this the end? Luther is famously quoted for his response to the question, “What would you do if you knew the world was going to end tomorrow?” He said he would plant a tree. Meaning he knew that the end was just the beginning.

And that’s the thing, we already know the end of the story. I once had someone tell me they didn’t think they could watch the movie “Passion of the Christ.” Suffering, torture, agonizing death… after a while I did say, “but you know the movie has a happy ending.” A final scene of resurrection: suffering vanquished, Satan conquered, death destroyed. Yes brothers and sisters we know from Scripture the end of the story. Even if we are persecuted, even martyred, that will be us who John saw in the vision revealed, as those whose robes were washed as white as snow in the blood of the Lamb.  We know the end of the story, and it gives us hope, because it ends in the Day of the Resurrection and eternal life in Christ.

And so too… radical enemies with sword in hand at the gates to strike us down, Church and State suppressing the Word of God, preaching/teaching/worship that is predominated by the demands of the Law that leaves one gasping for air and an easy way out… folks, we’ve been here before: we’re Lutherans.  In some of the darkest days of the Christian Church, was brought forth a confession and worship that was reformed to let the Gospel shine again.

St Andrews Lutheran – A Mission Field:USA church plant in ABQ, NM. National Night Out event to introduce themselves to the community.

St Andrews Lutheran – A Mission Field:USA church plant in ABQ, NM. National Night Out event to introduce themselves to the community.

So here’s what we are going to do: not just plant a tree, the good Lord willing, we are going to plant churches and new ministries.  In the coming months, by the grace of God, we will be sending domestic missionaries to be pioneers in new frontiers, in a new era of missions for the LCMS.

We are going to roll up our sleeves, we are going to put our hand to the till, and we are going to start the work of plowing tough terrain in new fields… in what we call, Mission field: USA.  We are going to be about distinctly Lutheran mission that lets the Gospel shine across the US.

We will work the soil, we will plant the seed, we will water, and we will leave the growth to the Lord of the harvest.  Not for survival’s sake, or institutional preservation, but because it is who we are and what we have been called to do.

Breaking ground at the Empowerment Center in Ferguson.

Breaking ground at the Empowerment Center in Ferguson.

Desperate times don’t demand desperate measures.  They demand repentance and forgiveness and continual reformation of the Church and unity of mission.  They demand faithful confession and love of neighbor. They demand bringing Christ into a broken world that is falling headlong into a downward spiral.  We’ve been here before, and we know where we are headed.  And if God is for us then who can be against us?  Desperate times don’t demand desperate measures – Keep calm and together let’s reform on!


Comments

Great Stuff — Desperate Times don’t Demand Desperate Measures – Keep Calm and Reform On — 11 Comments

  1. What a great & interesting article.
    I wonder, when we say, “They Kingdom come, They Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”, far too many have forgotten, what that really means.

    If it is the beginning of the “birth pains”, that means my Lord is coming or we’ll be going, to our real Home, with Him. Christ promised we would suffer trial, tribulation, and we would be hated, for His sake. He said It, He warned all from His time to this. Not one, can claim ignorance. No, not one can. He said so.

    The great thing, about His Children & His Bride, we never give up. Walk away, love, & uphold in prayer, sometimes, but we never give up.
    Great article, as I tend to think, far too many, forget it wasn’t just for a lost world, He came, He came for me & ya’ll, too. In no way does that mean, we abandon, our honor, privilege, duty, compassion, let alone our Faith in times like this. We do, what we are given & found worthy to do, in each day, He chooses us to stay, in this realm, knowing it is not our Home, we are just here for a short time.
    Luther ran risks, as have every Believer, through history. We are no more & no les than they.
    This is the 1st time I’ve seen this in print, rather than having a private discussion, in private, with a Holder of the Office. Well done, very well done!
    Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, Thy people, have need of Thee!
    Ferg. really? I’m thinking we should have, posted far too many other photos, than that.

  2. Luther is famously quoted for his response to the question, “What would you do if you knew the world was going to end tomorrow?” He said he would plant a tree.

    The “famously quoted” Apfelbäumgleichnis of Martin Luther is just that—an ‘apple tree fable’ which Luther never said nor wrote.

    This is discussed in more detail by Martin Schloemann in his book, Luthers Apfelbäumchen: Ein Kapitel deutscher Mentalitätsgeschichte seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994, 246-251). Schloemann also discusses whether it was even something that Luther would say.

    According to the website, Legenden um Luther: Luther und die Bäume, the quote—”Wenn ich wüsste, dass morgen die Welt unterginge, würde ich heute ein Apfelbäumchen pflanzen“—was first alleged in 1944 as coming from Martin Luther. No specific source was provided.

  3. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I am always interested in who wrote something. This post was authored by the Rev. Steve Schave, who is the LC-MS Director of Urban and Inner City Mission. An introduction to that work is the video at the top of the following web-page:
    http://www.lcms.org/citymission

    Our LC-MS was originally formed in two cultures: Midwest rural towns and prairies; Midwest cities and other US cities. There were no “suburbs” per se in the 19th century. They were really a creation of the interurban rail system in the early 20th century, then the auto revolution in the mid-20th century.

    I estimate, from experience and looking at official records, that half of our oldest congregations, and oldest facilities, are in urban and inner city areas. Though my present congregation is in the “inner city,” the “inner city” in Evansville is so small that you might miss it if you are driving at the speed limit on the Lloyd Expressway. But we are there in the poorest district in Vandeburgh County, and have been at this location since 1841.

    What Pastor Schave observes in his video I can see in my previous congregation in south Oak Park, Illinois. When I left there in early 2002, south Oak Park was seeing a slow exodus of home-owning middle-class people, while many homes were being turned into apartments, and residence for lower-class renters.

    Then sometime after 2002, the tide reversed, and younger families moved back into that area and became home-owners. This happened mainly because the commute to the outer suburbs was too lengthy and the costs for housing too high, compared to the older suburbs next to Chicago, like south Oak Park, Berwyn, River Grove, etc. At least this is what I have been told.

    The lesson there is that, in many places, the city and its near suburbs is affordable, and with good Lutheran schools, can be a great place to raise kids. I think of some of the congregations in south city Saint Louis that have recently seen a revival in membership, as young parents buy houses and send their kids to the Lutheran schools. This is happening all around Concordia Publishing House on Jefferson Avenue.

    As we move into the 21st century, we may not have as many Lutheran urban congregations in such close proximity as in the 19th century–the closest LCMS church to mine is about a half mile away. But we will–and should–still have a significant and distributed presence in the cities and inner suburbs, including Lutheran schools. This department of the LC-MS Office of National Mission will help us do that.

    Oh, and by the way, our synodical president was called from an inner city church in Fort Wayne, Zion Lutheran, when he began work at in Human Care and LCMS World Relief in 2001. So he knows the challenges and needs in this area by personal experience.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  4. @Carl Vehse #2

    The “famously quoted” Apfelbäumgleichnis of Martin Luther is just that—an ‘apple tree fable’ which Luther never said nor wrote.

    Luther may not have said or wrote it but it would be a good response to anyone who claimed to know what Christ Himself said (while on earth) belonged only to the Father. If done, we could be enjoying a good deal of fruit, thanks to many over the decades who thought they did know when the End would come!

    [Don’t you think it’s just a little rash to assume that we know what “Luther never said”?]

  5. @helen #6: “Don’t you think it’s just a little rash to assume that we know what “Luther never said”?”

    Typically, the burden of proof (e.g., a reference) is on the person who claims Luther said something. However, perhaps you may be more comfortable with the rephrase:

    The “famously quoted” Apfelbäumgleichnis of Martin Luther is just that—an ‘apple tree fable’ which Luther never was recorded to have said, nor wrote.

    As I previously noted, Martin Schloemann in his book also discusses whether the nonexisting quote was even something that Luther would say.

  6. Shown in the article above is a picture captioned, “Breaking ground at the Empowerment Center in Ferguson.” Actually, the Empowerment Center doesn’t exist yet. It is supposed to be built on the donated site of the Quik Trip gas station, which was burned down by rioters a couple of days after Michael Brown attacked a policeman and was shot dead. Ferguson rioters destroyed the store because they thought the Quik Trip gas station had called police after Brown had stolen cigars from there. (Actually Brown had carried out his strong-arm robbery at another store, and a customer in the store had called police.)

    The groundbreaking ceremony was staged with a load of dirt dumped onto the concrete lot of the Quik Trip station. Tearing up the concrete and digging out the dirt under it for construction will be done after the buried fuel tanks are safely removed according to city/state/EPA environmental regulations.

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