Archive for October 2011
President Harrison preached at on John 8:31-36 at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church this past Reformation Sunday.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
The choir, handbells, brass, and organ played at the three services offered that morning.
President Harrison also preached at St. Lorenz Lutheran Church, Frankenmuth, Michigan that afternoon at a choral vespers service. The choir, brass, and organ led the singing there as well.
Rev. Jon D. Vieker
Senior Assistant to the President
President Harrison gave an address at the ACNA-LCMS Open Forum held at Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne on Thursday, October 27, 2011. The video of President Harrison’s presentation is provided below in three parts.
— Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations–Assistant to the President
Note: This sermon was preached in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Arcadia, Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa on 28 October 2011 for the blessing of the first deaconesses in the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, a partner church of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The deaconesses were trained in an intensive course over two years by Deaconess Grace Rao of LCMS World Relief/Human Care. In attendance in the service were the members of the LCSA Church Council, many pastors and Women’s League members of that sister church. Presiding for the ceremony was Bishop Wilhelm Weber, Bishop of the LCSA. To say the least, it was a day full of joy in the Lord!
Bishop Weber, Deans, Pastors, beloved brothers, and people of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, students and teachers at the seminary, guests from the LCMS – and especially you, the ladies who have completed these intensive deaconess courses taught by Deaconess Grace Rao.
It is my honor to bring greetings to you this day from President Matthew Harrison, and to represent our Synod as together we celebrate God’s gifts. I am humbled by your example and by your desire to serve the Lord Jesus – may God bless you and keep you in His Word.
The Word of God that comes to us this day is 2 Corinthians 8:1-9.
As we begin, you must see this passage in light of the unity of the Church. The Church is One. We confess in the creed, one, holy, Christian and apostolic Church, because we are united by faith, to the One Lord Jesus, and to one another. To be specific about this text, Paul is using the generosity of the Macedonians as an example for the Corinthians in their giving to the collection for the saints in Jerusalem. Even from their poverty, the Macedonians gave generously, giving themselves first to the Lord, so Paul wants to motivate the Corinthians to complete their portion of the gift.
Here’s what this has to do with the unity of the Church. In the book of Acts, the Church began with Pentecost in Jerusalem. At first, most Christians were also Jewish. But as the Church grew and expanded in Antioch, many Gentiles were brought in. This brought conflict, which the Church addressed in the Apostolic Council in Acts 15 – keeping the Gospel at center. But then there came a famine in Jerusalem, so that the Jewish Christians were suffering terribly, poor and starving.
So Paul had this idea that the Gentile Christians should gather a large offering to bring relief and help to these suffering saints in Jerusalem. This would show the unity, the oneness of the Church, by the gifts of Christ for the Church. In chapter 9 Paul says this offering, not only supplies the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God from both Jew and Gentile, showing in a tangible way how the Church is One in Christ.
In a similar way, our service this morning is a sign of the unity of our churches today. A sign that the body of Christ is one and that Christ gives great gifts. You invited Grace Rao to come from the LCMS to teach. So we share together in the grace of God. We share in teaching and we share in learning. Teachers are encouraging students and students encouraging teachers. This all grows from the fact our churches are One in Christ.
That’s why I am honored to bring the Word of God for you this day. Because in this Word of God we share, we are truly rich, in the Lord Jesus. In fact, no matter what else we do not have, if we have the Lord Jesus in His Word, we have everything we need. Together we are rich.
However, if we did not have Jesus in His Word, no matter how much money we might have, we would be the poorest of the poor. For if we do not have Jesus, we really have nothing.
Think of this for a bit. If we look at ourselves without the Lord Jesus – what are we? In my Bible study with the Church Council, I said that without the Lord Jesus, we are like the chicken where the head has been chopped off. He might move and flop around for a few seconds, but as fast as he goes, he has no head, he is lost, and he is dying.
Even when we think we have everything, without Jesus, we really have nothing. Moruti Tswaedi reminded us Wednesday that our parents, Adam and Eve, after they had fallen into sin, had nothing. Even the fig leaves they tried to cover themselves with were drying up and crumbling away.
You and I know this, too. When we act on our own. When we do not care what God says or wants. When we push ourselves in front of others, we may think that is the way to go. But like Adam and Eve’s fig leaves, it all comes to nothing… and may even throw away the gifts of God.
Our Lord calls us daily to REPENT – that is, to see the poverty of that way, the way that leads to death. And by the Holy Spirit in His Word, our Lord wants us to see our true riches in Jesus Christ, crucified and raised from the dead.
Then, as God in our flesh, he humbled Himself. He became poor, as Jesus said, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no where to lay His head. He came down even more, suffering under Pontius Pilate, came down all the way to the cross, all the way to death and the grave. He took our spiritual poverty into Himself, for the Scripture says, God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. So because Jesus takes all our sin, our poverty, our death, now by His resurrection from the dead, He makes us rich. He makes us rich with the forgiveness of our sins, with the promise of the resurrection to eternal life. He makes us rich, by calling us, by adopting us, as the Children of God, making God our Father. Everything that belongs to Him, He now gives us.
By His poverty, we are made rich.
The Bible says that baptized into Jesus, we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we might declare the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His own marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). A people for God’s own possession, a people God marked out for Himself. In another place it says, you are not your own, you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19).
As the Catechism says, Christ has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him… Jesus makes us rich in His gifts… And in the richness of His gifts… we serve Him together.
Our temptation as churches is often to think of ourselves as poor, that because we don’t have enough money, we are weak, that we are poor and have little or nothing to give. But our Lord calls us to see today that we have, together, the greatest treasure in all the world, in Jesus Christ.
- In our confessional service on Wednesday, our Lord gave us riches beyond measure in the forgiveness of sins. You have those riches always to share.
- In the Lord’s Supper, we have, given into our very mouths, the most precious things in the universe, the body and blood of Jesus, for the forgiveness of sins.
- Sunday after Sunday in Church, as well as whenever we open our Bibles, we open up a treasure chest of Spiritual riches.
By Christ’s poverty on the cross, by His sacrifice, we are now RICH! And when we receive that treasure, when we receive the forgiveness of sins, when we believe the promise and Christ gives His righteousness, He makes us RICH beyond measure!
St. Ambrose first told the story of St. Lawrence, a leader of the church in Rome. When the emperor’s representative demanded that he turn over to him the riches of the Church, he asked for three days to gather them up. First, he gave away to the poor all the money the church had, then he gathered all the sick, the blind, the lame, the hurting, the poor, all the people who had been gathered into the church and said, Here are the riches of the church!
You see, the true treasure of the church is the forgiveness of sins in the Lord Jesus, the life of Christ given to us. These riches are the possession of every believer in Jesus. For the true riches of Christ’s Church are not measured in dollars, but are measured in people who know the Lord Jesus Christ, who are baptized into His name, and are living in His forgiveness. The riches of the church are given by the Lord Jesus Himself when he forgives us, makes us His own, and fills us with His Spirit. And these riches of Christ are given away through you Pastors as you proclaim the Word of God and forgive sins.
That’s also why, the real riches of the Church are present here, here in the people Jesus has forgiven, that Jesus has given His Church. YOU are a treasure to the Lord Jesus because He shed His blood for you. So the treasure is here in you, dear pastors… And here in you, dear ladies, whom we are recognizing today.
You are being trained as deaconesses. You are part of the treasure of the Church. For you know the Lord Jesus. You are giving away the riches of Christ’s love, the riches of His mercy and His care for poor, hurting sinners. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty, we might become rich! (2 Corinthians 8:9).
And in this way also, the Church is One… As St. Paul was seeking to demonstrate. For the Lord has raised you up, dear ladies, through the congregations of the LCSA. You have been gathered and prepared and sent here.
And another part of the Church has provided training and help through people like Deaconess Grace and others.
So the Church is One… Because we receive the same gifts of Christ. He makes us rich.
And now these deaconesses in training are being blessed and given to the Church, to learn and to grow in service, to work with the Pastors and congregations, to be servants in the Church, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to care for people, to help bring the riches of Christ to His people.
We thank God for you today… We thank God for these ladies:
So the Church is One, and it is rich in receiving and giving the gifts of the Lord Jesus!
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
+ Herbert Mueller
LCMS First Vice President
28 October 2011
Today was the final day of the third dialogue session between the ACNA and the LCMS. The group agreed that discussions were profitable and that another dialogue should be held in the spring of 2012. Russ Jones of OneNewsNow wrote a story about the dialogue that is reproduced below.
— Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations
Churches dialogue re: culture, faith
Russ Jones – OneNewsNow – 10/28/2011 10:55:00 AM
Two Christian church unions are discussing the challenges of maintaining an orthodox evangelical faith. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) are in Fort Wayne, Indiana, discussing trends in the modern church.
The event is the third installment of a four-part dialogue between the two church bodies, which began the dialogue in 2010. Speakers are meeting at Concordia Theological Seminary under the theme “Contemporary Issues Facing the Church in North America.” While the two denominations are not partner churches, representatives say the forum addresses topics where the culture has impacted the church — such as same-sex “marriage,” adoption by homosexuals, and the ordination of practicing homosexual men and women.
“Dr. Jonathan Riches … from the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, [told our open forum] that the church cannot let the culture take it over,” says Dr. Albert Collver III, director of church relations and assistant to the LCMS president. Collver tells OneNewsNow he is hopeful the dialogue with the ACNA will help strengthen and encourage creedal and evangelical Christians in what the denomination calls “the last dark days.” “By ‘creedal’ we mean people who accept the Apostles’/Nicene/Athanasian Creed and who … take the creed very seriously — not simply as historical documents, but as confessions of faith, which both the Missouri Synod and the Anglican Church in North America do.”
The next session of the dialogue, tentatively planned for May 12-13 on the campus of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, will address the theme of “Authority in the Church.”
The third dialogue between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) on “Contemporary Issues Facing the Church in North America,” began on 27 October 2011 on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne. Presentations engaged the question of the ordination of women to the office of Holy Ministry and on other challenges facing the church such as post-humanism and trans-humanism. The first dialogue, held 10-11 November 2010 in Saint Louis at Concordia Seminary, focused on the historical backgrounds of the ANCA and the LCMS. The second dialogue, held 12-13 May 2011 held in Bluebell, PA at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, focused on the question of authority, both Scriptural authority and ecclesial authority.
Participants from the Anglican Church in North America (ANCA) included: Dr. Grant LeMarquand, Professor of Biblical Studies and Mission at Trinity School for Ministry, Dr. Jonathan Riches, Assistant Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Liturgics and Theology at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, and Bishop Ray Sutton, Diocese of Mid-America, REC/ACNA and Chair of Ecumenical Relations Task Force (ACNA).
Participants from the LCMS included: Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President, Dr. Frederic Baue, Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations, Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Executive Director of the CTCR, Dr. Lawrence Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary, and Rev. Larry Vogel, Associate Executive Director CTCR.
Participants from the LCC included, Dr. John Stephenson
Rev. Dr. John Stephenson, Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary Brock University of the Lutheran Church – Canada (LCC), preached in Kramer Chapel on Matthew 15:1-9.
After lunch, the group toured the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary.
While there are many areas of agreement between the ACNA and the LCMS, there also are differences. The dialogue has taken an open and honest approach in recognizing differences between the church bodies. President Harrison noted that Herman Sasse said that there is more fellowship between Christians who honestly disagree with one another than with Christians who gloss over or who agree to disagree about their differences.
At 7 PM, there will be an Open Forum, featuring President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS and Dr. Jonathan Riches of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, speaking about contemporary issues facing the church. The public is invited to attend the open forum.
Some photos from the dialogue.
The agenda for the dialogue is posted below: