Sorry I Missed Church!
I was not feeling the best the weekend of February 10-11, 2018 when the Church observed the Transfiguration of our Lord and when St. John’s Lutheran Church and School observed National Lutheran Schools Sunday. I missed church!
I didn’t get to sing the Te Deum for the last time before it is put away for Lent. I didn’t sing the “Alleluias” in the closing hymn, sending them into exile during the Lenten season. I didn’t hear the familiar story told in all three Gospels about the Lord’s glorious transfiguration in the presence of heaven touching earth on that one unnamed mountain, observed by the three disciples Peter, James, and John. I didn’t hear our school children sing their songs of praise, even as they were denied rehearsal time due to the snow day on the Friday before. I didn’t hear or participate in Pastor Schaeffer’s message…
So many things I missed! My week was not the same as I didn’t start the week in worship. My week was off-balance. Then Ash Wednesday preparations took over my schedule and my ‘mojo’ for writing had to be stirred into action.
Ever have those weeks? Those days? All because you missed church? Granted, my short illness, (stiff throat and tongue, no hoarseness or things relating to flu, cold, or other, but playing it safe with the ‘isolation’ medication of preventing something from spreading from me or to me) did prove reflective in that I was in the ‘pit’ of not being in worship. I had a taste of what it was like not to be in God’s house and how it affected the rest of that weekend and the beginning of the week.
That’s a pastor’s view. What about the rest of the Church? “Sorry, I missed church,” is often heard, but what effect does it have on the member? I hear from those who had been sick, and once they return to worship, they tell me, “Pastor, I’m glad to be back in church.” They treasure something of being in the midst of the congregation as they hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly take to heart the precious truths of God’s Word to receive that patience and comfort from our Lord.
So much of what we hear, read, and learn from the world is filled with sorrow, death, hatred, and inhumanity to man. We’ve been hearing of that since Genesis 3! All due to Satan stirring the pot and sending us samples of his poisonous cooking. As I write this, our country mourns the loss of some 17 innocent lives of high school youth, adding to the number of others who have experienced violence. And this seems to be an increase of what we have heard over the last two decades since Columbine High School in Colorado. Yes, Satan is active in this world, and unfortunately, we can’t seem to capture and imprison him, bring him to trial, and execute him for his murderous actions.
But, this Lenten season, we learn of Someone who has already arrested, tried, and convicted Satan—for ALL his crimes! Jesus confronted Satan with the all-powerful Word of God, and while Satan would retreat and try again (and again) to make Jesus fail and fall; Jesus would overcome and claim the victory over sin and Satan and death and hell. Thanks be to God!
I need to hear and be reminded that Jesus has defeated Satan. I need to hear that my sins are forgiven. I need to hear that heaven is reserved for me. I’m sure you, too, as you read this, also need to hear these things. God forgives us when we kneel in confession and say, “Sorry, I missed church.” He places His gracious hand upon us and forgives us and grants us that same Gospel invitation, that same enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, that same gathering into His Church on earth, where we can exclaim as David in Psalm 122:1: “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”
This Lenten season, pray that you would be strengthened in your faith, to respond to the Gospel invitation to come and see your Savior Jesus as He suffered, died, and claims victory over all the trials and tribulations of your life and of this world!
Pastor Ron Brauer