PASTOR'S PAGE..........................................AUGUST 2020
This month I would like to discuss faith and love and the conundrum between the two of them.
First, faith. The workings of a holy God are contrary to our sinful nature, for He is pure and we are not. So, don’t let how He chooses to do things surprise you. Still, we often are. Reflect on faith, and you will recognize this is so. For, to our way of thinking, faith is something active.
Most people think faith comes into existence by an act we do, despite Scripture speaking of God as the Savior, who saves by faith, who bespeaks us righteous. Still, we always want to turn faith into our work, all the more so as our language becomes our ally. Ponder how we speak, which, too often, turns faith into something we do.
Well, if this is true, our believing changes our status with God the Father, rather than Jesus changing that status. So, we realize believing, in and of itself, cannot save us. You see, one’s faith clings to the incarnate Christ because His restoration for someone is real before a person ever places his hope in Him—if not, what someone believes doesn’t matter anyway. Only in His work for us, does Jesus gift us with something to hold on to as real and valid.
(Did you catch me using “cling,” “place,” and “hold,” which are all active verbs, what we do? Here, our way of speaking misshapes our theology. So we spot a glimpse of how our language-formed thought patterns shape how we think—often without us realizing it.)
So, the words we associate with faith, prompt us to define faith, not as God’s activity, but as something we do. Now, we turn a decision for Christ or submitting to His will as our moment of salvation. So, we’ll bumble out inept phrases like, “Jesus saved you. Now all you need to do is…” Such words undercut the Gospel, taking away from the “all” God does to redeem us.
Doesn’t Scripture affirm faith to be a divine gift? Yes, in Ephesians 2:8. To be a gift means we did nothing to contribute to what we received; otherwise, the giftedness of something goes away. On our end, faith isn’t doing but receiving, something the Father does, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit.
In matters of love, many of us understand love as something passive, an emotion. A person comes along and captures you and, poof, you “fall” in love. Strange, for the verb “fall” is active, yet we recognize its function as passive. Why?
No one wants to fall; this happens when someone trips and tumbles. So, despite the sentence, “He fell in love,” which uses an active verb, we treat it as describing what took place, not as the cause. Again, our usages of language entrap us, nullifying the active nature of “fall” into something inactive and passive.
So, the verbs in our vocabulary can betray us, twisting our perceptions of both love and faith. All this should be so simple for us to realize—if only our worded patterns of thought didn’t constrain us like captives. Now, our minds, all too often, conclude our beliefs in God come about by something we bring into being. All the while, we turn love into a mere, passive emotion, stripping away its verbness and its activity toward others.
Listen to the Scriptures: “This is how we understand love—Jesus laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). Here, John uses “understand” as a synonym for faith, by which each Christian comes to rely on God’s downpour of love. How? Not by doing something, but by God accomplishing something—laying down His life for us.
So faith is passive and love is active. Faith doesn’t do, but trusts in the working of another. In turn, faith leads to faithfulness, which does express itself in love. So love does the doing, not faith. Return to Christ, often and always, to relearn this truth. “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” (Romans 4:4-5).
Still, don’t assume that, because of its passivity, faith is empty or lifeless. How can this be? For our faith receives its life from God. Nothing is dead when the Spirit joins us to the Word of Life, who gave His life for us all!
In your faith-life, receive the love God provides for you in His Word and Sacrament. For God’s love, to us and for us, is the focal point of our God-gifted faith. Never stagnant, His love for us moves through us to others, empowering our Christian lives toward others. For, in, and through is the pattern of our lives, from a faith received to a love lived out.
Registered Visitors at First Trinity for June/July 2020 - (Visitors who filled out cards.)
June 28 Rosie Hill – Fairbury, NE; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Katie, Lauren & Carter Johnsen – Grand Island, NE
July 5 Bill/Amy Lawrence, Texas; Todd Mahloch – Texas; Mari Sayer – Hastings, NE
July 12 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Lyle Osborn – Lenexa, KS
July 19 Rosie Hill – Fairbury, NE ; Lisa Bluege – Belvidere, IL; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE
Church Offering Income for the Month of June: $8,401.03
THOSE CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST
Sarah Morris 1 Ethel Hartman 18
Marilyn Kite 3 Rosemary Niemeier 18
Krista Reynolds 3 Carolyn Bennett 20
Denise McAllister 7 Jim Nelson 20
Kim Franzen 8 Joan Burger 22
Betsy Spilker 8 Shirley Neumann 24
Cameron Meyer 9 Dean Damme 25
Fred Swartz 10 Jane Niemeier 28
Kent Cunningham 12 Wayne Ossowski 28
Dillon Damme 17
THOSE CELEBRATING BAPTISMAL BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST
Delores Wollenburg 5 Denise McAllister 19
Logan Damme 11 Jerry Larmeu 23
Sarah Morris 12 Marilyn Kite 24
Kim Franzen 18 Rosemary Niemeier 30
THOSE CELEBRATING ANNIVERSARIES IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST
Michael/Megan Sothan 2
Tom/Sandra Brandt 6
David/Rosemary Niemeier 8
Jerry/Melissa Larmeu 11
Allen/Karen Pfingsten 20
Brinn/Cyndie* Remmenga 20
Jim/Carolyn Nelson 23
*If your birthday, baptismal birthday, or anniversary date is missing from our lists, please contact the church office so we can include it next year.