August 23, 2013

Download Political? No.

Back in April, a pastor wrote in to express his disagreement with these suggestions featured in our weekly Life Notes e-newsletter—excerpted from the “Speaking through Worship” section of our How You Can “Speak” booklet:

  • Provide altar flowers dedicated to mothers (Mother’s Day) and give them to moms after church service has ended.

  • Have your adult and/or children’s choir sing God Knew Your Name during the worship service. Have the lyrics printed in the bulletin.

  • Place a white flower in chancel/altar when a person is baptized (representing the new life found in Christ).

  • During worship services, display banners designed as crib quilts which can later be donated to a pregnancy center.

The pastor wrote, “How about concentrating on the Divine Service and the Altar where the body and blood of our Sacrificed Savior is placed. Suggestions like this are disruptive to the focus of the Service, and invariably cause discord against a pastor who is trying to be faithful to traditional Lutheran liturgy … These ideas may have merit in their place, but we have these feelings because of what Jesus does to us in the Divine Service, the Divine Service doesn’t exist to promote our political agendas.”

My response was as follows:

I respect your right to make decisions about what may distract from the Divine Service and our Lord’s Body and Blood. I appreciate your sensitivity to this. I also agree that the Divine Service does not exist to promote anyone’s political agenda.

What I object to is the implication that what we do at LFL promotes a political agenda. Absolutely false. We have no political agenda. We have a mission to equip Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life. There is nothing political about striving to uphold the God-given sanctity of human life. There is nothing political about speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. There is nothing political about preaching God’s law into the hearts of those who think the brutal destruction of unborn children created by God and for whom the blood of Christ on our altars was shed is a “choice” or a “right” or a “political issue.” Every child slaughtered in abortion is someone whom God the Holy Spirit desires to call through the waters of holy baptism into an eternal relationship with Him, come to His Divine Service, and eventually come to the altar and receive that body and blood.

There is nothing political about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the hearts of those men and women crushed by an abortion decision in their past. There is nothing political about proclaiming that the blood of Christ, the blood on our altar, was shed for the sin of abortion. It is the ONLY message that can possibly bring healing to hearts broken by the sin of making a decision to have their own child killed. Indeed, it is a horrible offense to the Gospel to have this precious news and never apply it to the sin of abortion, never speak it for fear of being “political.”

There is nothing political about warning people about the idolatry of turning to death as a solution to the problems of life. Luther says, that whatever we turn to for “more good and help than from God is an idol, another god.” There is nothing political about pointing people instead to the Lord of Life, the cross of a suffering Savior, and to a God who works His will and good in the midst of suffering.

I could go on, but we pastors do not like long emails! Sorry! Bottom line, LFL is not political, we have no political agenda. We are not For Life because we live in a society that isn’t but because we serve a God who is. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most powerful and positive For Life message in the universe for it changes hearts and lives and gives eternal life. It is tailor made for issues of life and death, pain and suffering, grief and regret.

So if you believe the suggestions made about flowers and such distract from the altar and the Divine Service do not use them. But please do not label them as promoting a political agenda. Their purpose is to promote life, and not just life, but life created, redeemed, and called by God through Jesus Christ.