Son Times - Winter 2015: The Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas seasons are upon us. So are you a Christian?
LIke it or not the holidays (holy-days) are rapidly approaching. I have already heard a Christmas commercial on the radio in October and saw decorated trees next to Halloween costumes in a store. For Christians the Holy-days are about what God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ. This is true love! And in order to fully receieve it we must be a part of it. By actually coming to church, God has given us a weekly invitation and during these Holy-days many additional opportunities (Thanksgiving services, midweek Advent services, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Epiphany) are available to receieve His gifts.
But you are not a Christian when you despise teaching and the Sacraments by not coming to church.
In other words, Christians go to church. Those who leave the fellowship of the Church are not Christians. Sometimes physcial disabilities and illnesses prevent people from making it to church. In those cases, it's the pastor's job to bring church (Word & Sacrament) to them. Those people are Christians even thoughtthey can't get to church. Thos ewho despise preaching and the Sacrament, when they are physically able aren't Christians.
Christians believe in "the communion of saints." Communion (or fellowship) with other Christians is at the heart of the Christian faith, and this communion fellowship lives by preaching and the Sacrament. Because Satan is out for blood, and we're much easier prey when we're alone. Satan likes nothing more than the isolated sheep.
So that Satan might not prevail against us, Hesus has called us into His body, His flock, His family. Just as a body, flock, or family isn't made up of one member, neither is the Christian life lived in isolation.
Fellowship -being together in the Divine Service, receiving the gifts of God- is such an essential part of the Christian faith that St. John says the whole point of proclaiming the Gospel is "so that you too may have fellowship with us." To reject this fellowship is, at best, to reject those means by which Christ grants forgiveness. At worst, it is to deny your need for forgiveness altogether. To reject the Bride is to reject the Bridgegroom Himself.
It's wonderful to read the Bible and pray at home. After all, Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh don't limit their temptation activity to one hour, once per week. However, reading the bible and praying "on my own" is not an excuse to avoid the fellowship of the Church by not attending. To depart from the Church, as St. John says, is to walk in the darkness.
While nobody can keep God's commandments perfectly, Christians are those who strive to walk by the light of His Word, which includes keeping the 3rd commandment. To fear, love and trust God is to love preaching and His Word, to hold it sacred, and to gladly hear and learn it. In, short, to love God is to go to Church. And there is no better time of year to do it than now!
Come and See