My church newsletter column for St. Peter Lutheran Church, Greene, Iowa, for May, 2017.
Freed by the Resurrection to Serve
After Jesus’ crucifixion, his disciples gathered together behind locked doors, fearing they would be the next ones arrested and killed.
(See John 20:19-29 for the story!) As they were hiding in fear, Jesus came to them. He didn’t wait for them to get over their fear, or apologize for abandoning him at the cross. He came and commissioned them: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Perhaps the strongest evidence for the truth of the resurrection is the impact it has on the disciples. In the book of Acts, it’s like they are totally new people. They’re willing to endure opposition, persecution, even death for the sake of spreading the good news of Jesus. They’ve gone from timidly hiding to boldly declaring to the world the truth that Jesus is alive.
We too live as Easter people. While we aren’t likely (thank God!) to encounter the same sort of opposition and persecution the disciples faced, we too live in a world that needs to hear the good news of the Easter resurrection. Of course, we spread that message within our church to those who come to our worship services, Sunday School, or any of the other programs we host through our congregation. That’s the core of our mission and outreach. Who can you invite to join us in worship to hear the good news?
But the world’s need is far greater than we could ever address on our own. That’s why I’m grateful we are part of a larger church body. We provide support for others to do ministry far more effectively in more places than we alone ever could.
One ministry I want to highlight today is Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI). LSI is the social services wing of our church here in Iowa. (They’re also part of the larger Lutheran Services in America, the largest charity in the country by revenue. Did you know LSA serves 1 of every 50 people in America each year!?)
Right here in Iowa, LSI last year provided 15,430 home visits for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers; 361,440 hours empowering people with disabilities; and 10,302 therapy sessions for children, families, and adults. They also work with refugees, with at risk youth at the Bremwood treatment center in Waverly, and provide a variety of other services.
This is our church at work!
And of course, we reach out to boldly share the gospel in word and deed through many other programs and organizations beyond LSI, such as Lutheran World Relief quilts, giving money from a Lenten supper to Food for the Poor, sponsoring Mary Beth & Bayo Oyebade’s work as ELCA missionaries in Nigeria, and many more.
Like the disciples, we are commissioned as Easter people to serve our neighbors that they may know the hope we have in Christ. We’re set free from our fear of death to live abundant lives of service. May we at St. Peter Lutheran Church continue to boldly share God’s blessings with the world, and may we live in the confidence, hope, and joy of the Resurrection.
Rejoicing in the promise of the Resurrection,
–Pastor Daniel Flucke