First Lutheran Church
Peace Lutheran Church
It is becoming almost routine. You turn on the nightly news, or scroll through your facebook feed, and there it is, another story of Christians being killed for their faith.
I suppose we should not be surprised; Jesus does warn us that these things will happen as we draw ever closer to the Last Day. But it still jars us; still leaves us stunned that such a thing could happen.
Right now, it happens ‘over there’, but one day it may, no, one day it will, happen here. Probably not you, maybe not even your children, but your grandchildren may very well be given the option of life or death for their confession of faith.
In our confirmation vows, one of the questions asks if you would be willing to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from the Christian faith; to which we all answered a hearty: I do, by the grace of God. Chances are many of us, myself included, never thought we would actually face the question of life or death when it comes to our confession of faith, at least not in this country.
Yet the evidence appears to say that it may one day happen in this country.
As it so happens, in at least one of the videos showing Christians being killed for their faith, the last word spoken by each of the Christians before their throats were slit, was ‘Jesus’.
I admire these modern day martyrs, confessing Jesus to the end. I pray that if called upon, I might do the same; though I certainly hope to die of old age rather than be executed. I imagine with some certainty that your wish is the same.
But it was not these men that made such a bold confession; rather it was the Holy Spirit working through them that moved them to confess with the mouth and believe with the heart that Jesus is Lord. The same Holy Spirit that called them to faith through the water and word of Holy Baptism, the same Holy Spirit that got them out of bed and moved them to go the house of the Lord to receive the body and blood of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, is the same Holy Spirit that worked in them to not deny Jesus, but rather confess His name to the very end as they were about to be executed so gruesomely.
For now, death is not knocking at the door of the Church here; though plenty of other forms of persecution are. We are indeed living in grey and latter days, when the coming of Christ certainly seems to be nearer now than ever before. What is your prayer as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death? Do we fear the evil that is coming upon us, even though that fear may not be the blade of a sword or the barrel of a gun?
Our prayer is that our Good Shepherd Jesus, would lead and guide us all the days of our lives. That yes, we do live in grey and latter days, and yet our life is one of praise to our crucified and risen Lord, who overcame death and hell on our behalf.
Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit who called us to faith through the water and word of Holy Baptism, who nourishes us with the body and blood of Jesus, who speaks the words of the absolution into our ears, would give us strength and courage to confess that faith before kings and princes, before friends and family, and if need be, before those who would threaten us with bodily harm or even death.
For as we walk through this ever darkening valley, where the hordes of evil surround us; we do not walk alone. Guiding us with His Word and with His promises is our Good Shepherd Jesus, who promises that all who confess Him before men, He also will confess before His Father who is in heaven.