January 6, 2014
Views from church on December 22 with ice reflecting in the trees.
December 7, 2013
Excerpt from Latest Newsletter
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
November 1 every year, the church throughout the world, from ancient times has celebrated All Saints' Day. Not only have we celebrated the saints considered to be well-known, but also those who may be near and dear to us. Someone's grandmother, father, sister, friend or child, may come to mind. While individual circumstances and gifts may differ, the faith that saves is the same in every Christians heart. Therefore, all believers are saints—living now and forever.
On a couple of occasions, when visiting with residents at the Illinois Youth Facility in Grafton, I have spoken to them about their lives as believers…speaking to them as St. William…St. John…or St. Jamal. To them, this was foreign or alien in thought. They were after-all sinners, living at a facility that only served to validate this point. While I would hesitate to ask why they are they are detained at Grafton, the majority of those I meet with, know full well, why they are there…that they had broken a law. Some will even suggest that their being in the facility has likely spared their lives.
But what about the suggestion of their being called a saint appears foreign? If I would call each of you, St. Ed…St. David…or St. Marilyn, would it sound foreign or alien to you? We, like the young men that I am privileged to serve in Bible study, are quick to assess ourselves as not worthy of being called saints. But what is the basis for our worthiness? We are indeed "sinners in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone." We confess that daily as Christians. But how does our Lord respond? "I therefore forgive you all your sins" (John 20:19-23)
Though our Lord was without sin, He was convicted for our sins. He paid the price for our sins on the cross. Our sins are forgiven! If indeed we believe our sins are forgiven, we are also by the grace of God, in line to inherit the kingdom of heaven, by being brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. St. Paul says, "You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). Sainthood is not dependent upon what we have done…rather it is based upon what Christ has done for us.
To deny sainthood, is to deny that we are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, or what He has done on our behalf. One day, when we celebrate with Him in His kingdom, the title of "saint" may not sound so alien to you. Until that time, may we accept such title, that we may serve Him, to His glory.
In His grace,