The Lord be with you all! Blessed Reformation Day!
As we celebrate the Reformation of the church begun by Martin Luther so long ago, we realize that we continually need a reformation of our lives!
You want to know how much we need a reformation?
Lutherans are confirming only half the children they baptize.
Nationally, 2/3 of the Lutheran congregations have one or less adult baptisms or conversions. (Here at Peace we have not had ONE in all the seven years I have been pastor here!)
Sunday worship attendance at Peace Lutheran has steadily declined over the past 7 years so that the average attendance this Fall has been about 70% of what it was! (speaking with the other pastors in the area, this is about the same as with all our churches).
Is there ONE reason for this? No. There has been only a couple who have “left in a huff” because of something bad that has happened… There have been only a couple people who have actually been taken OFF the membership roles…
There are, in fact, MANY reasons for falling attendance! I see a few prominent ones:
Families are exhausted (but why?);
Families are broken (but why?);
Our families are small (but why?);
The faith we have is very shallow (but why?);
There are so many “better” things to be doing than worshipping our Savior (and what might they be?);
Our lives are all about ourselves and satisfying ourselves – not God (and where did we learn this?).
The list could go on of course… One compromise of the faith leads to another and another and another – and eventually we find that our faith is empty and meaningless. It is the work of Satan himself who lures us away with all the distractions of this world. We never say “I deny Christ”, but certainly with our lives we drift so far away from the way of the Lord and from hearing His Word of forgiveness and love and of the cross that there certainly comes the day when in fact we HAVE forsaken our baptismal faith. There is no fear, or love, or trust in God. We have denied Him!
May the Lord have mercy on our souls and give us the strength of faith not simply to sustain us to our earthly ends, but continually reform our lives we might put away sin continually and overflow in faith, hope and love – that all might see Christ! He is our all in all. In Him we live and have our being. In Him is Life and Salvation. In Him alone can we be fulfilled in our lives. In Him alone do we find salvation!
BUT IT TURNS OUT THAT GOD REALLY DOES REFORM HEARTS! GOD’S MIRACLES NEVER CEASE! THIS COMING SUNDAY WE WILL BE CELEBRATING ALL SAINTS DAY BY HEARING THE CONFESSION OF FAITH OF SEVERAL NEW WORSHIPPERS – WHO WANT TO BECOME MEMBERS OF PEACE! AMAZINGLY, BY GOD’S GRACE, THERE ARE THOSE WHO ARE EAGER TO HEAR GOD’S WORD AND REST IN HIS GRACE AND FORGIVENESS!