Pastoral Reflections- Rev. Robert P. Doner, Peace United Church of Christ Gladbrook, Iowa-“Justified and at Peace”
April 26, 2013
I open with these thoughts offered by the Apostle Paul, recorded in the letter to the to the Romans: “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’ (Romans 5:1-5) “Peace with God”; that is certainly good tiding of peace for the faith and family of Peace United Church of Christ and all who embrace our Lord Jesus Christ! We are told that peace with God is discerned in our reconciliation with God, our reunion with the Holy One made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus buried our acts of disobedience against God with his death and burial and the grace he won for us through the resurrection was God’s signal that we have once more entered into a new life and relationship with the Creator Parent. Most importantly, all this was done through the plan and purpose of the Almighty. Martin Luther, the great German reformer, had constantly struggled with faith issues until he read St. Paul’s justification by faith. Luther carried Paul’s thought a bit further-we are justified by faith alone was his belief. Where so many had affixed good works as the measure of a Christian’s hope for eternal life, Luther proclaimed that God alone had done the one and only good work necessary for redemption-that of the obedience of Christ to sacrifice his own life for all of God’s children. For Paul and Luther the burden of trying to earn one’s way into heaven was now removed-and Christ’s faithful were now freed to act, not for self, but for Christ and God in the world. The focus was to change how the disciples of Christ cared for the world God had given them to care for and how to care for those who shared the world with them. Another great reformer, Calvin, modeled the possibility when he helped Geneva reform its society. Women and children, often the recipients of abuse in the man-dominated culture of the time were protected and empowered-this long before our own efforts on our own society! In May we celebrate Mother’s Day and the Christian family; let us remember how important both are. Let us remember, too, that we have been freed to make a significant difference in our world by God in Christ. So, as we prepare to celebrate our moms and our families, let us commit ourselves to making our families stronger and more empowered by acts of love, kindness, support and encouragement.
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