Reflections


Pastor's Message for the Month


November 2022

Thanksgiving for Past, Present, and Future

 

by Pastor Benjamin Dolby
All Saints Lutheran Church

 

The truth about life is the juxtaposition between so much being broken and so much to be thankful for. We are hopelessly broken creatures living in a terribly broken world. In stark contrast to this bitter truth is the truth that there is so much to be thankful for.

I invite you to ponder your favorite Thanksgiving memory; was it from a recent year or from many years ago? Was it a memory of the fellowship in preparing the house and the food for family and beloved friends? Or do you remember the delicious dessert brought by a grandmother or friend? Or, if you are anything like me, the memory of the morning football game outside with the laughter of kids and grown-ups, the crunching of autumn leaves underfoot…while we try to live out our football dreams without a hospital visit before the Thanksgiving feast with gathered loved ones.

The gift to gather around a meal and share the gift of fellowship with family and friends at Thanksgiving mirrors the incredible wealth we experience as Christians every week. Think about it…God gathers us around his table to receive his eternal gifts of forgiveness, joy, and hope in his Word and Sacraments even as we still live as pilgrims, sojourners in a broken, sorrow-filled world. There is so much to be thankful for even as we acknowledge how difficult it is to look at the world around us and even the broken state of our own heart, mind, and soul. God provides us sustenance for our earthly journey in himself and his gifts to us!

As I remember Thanksgiving memories from the near and long-ago past, I see so many beloved faces and hear so many voices from those no longer with us among the living on earth. I miss them terribly. Even as I deal with that bitter sorrow, I am comforted in knowing that reality is much more than the present longing for the past while simultaneously being thankful in the present. As we begin the month of November, I am thankful that because of the accomplished work of God through his Son, Jesus, Christ, the faces I no longer see and the voices I no longer hear are not something doomed to remain in the past, dead, and gone. I am thankful for Jesus giving us hope that the past and present indeed have a future in him.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life + everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean? … In this Christian church he daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.

On the Last Day he will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

I give thanks for the truth of God’s eternal gifts meaning so much for us in the present. God brings us comfort as we deal with the truth of our present reality – the juxtaposition of the world being broken and yet, we have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for the daily bread of God’s Word that applies to all of us among the living. It is good to have time to give thanks for our one and only hope, the Savior, Jesus Christ, Victor over Sin, Devil, and Death. May we hear him and share him as we still have days afforded to us on earth!

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. – Daniel 12:2

Jesus said, “All who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:28-29

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. – 1 Corinthians 15:42-43

Christ will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:21

May we be blessed to receive, remember, recite, and re-share the Good News God gives to us in this month of thankfulness and every future month he affords us on earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

In Christ,

Pastor Dolby


October 2022

Recalling Hope in Autumn Leaves

 

by Pastor Benjamin Dolby
All Saints Lutheran Church

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. – Galatians 3:24-26

When the month “October” is mentioned, what comes to mind? For the general population it is likely the magnificent explosion of color in nature, especially the leaves. Summer is giving way to Fall or Autumn. Crops and fruits are gathered, leaves are falling, at least for all of us who reside in the northern hemisphere!

For Christians of our confession, Lutherans, October recalls the monumental events of history leading up to and following October 31, 1517. The Reformation! What you see in the Galatians passage above is not only our Confirmation families’ October memory work, but also the glorious freedom of the Gospel being understood better in a language everyone can understand. The Gospel is better understood because of the results that came about from Martin Luther challenging the church leaders of the Church with his 95 Theses. The ultimate result of this historical confrontation and epic debates of the proper understanding of God’s Holy Word, the Bible, is this: We are no longer doomed to try to try the impossible and defeat Sin, Satan, or Death by money we give or by works we try to achieve. Jesus Christ has defeated Sin, Satan, and Death for us by his death and resurrection. Jesus Christ has given us the gift of faith, forgiveness, and the hope of the Resurrection.

Here is what October means to me. I can still vividly remember walking around Huntington, Indiana with my Grandpa Thomas when I was in 4th and 5th grade in October. He went on several walks with me so I could gather up leaves from a variety of trees all over that small town for a science class project. I distinctly remember having conversations with my grandfather and with my mother about the season of Autumn being a time where the world is preparing to go to sleep…truly a soft and artistic way to talk to a child about death. The cycle of seasons is truly like the seasons of our earthly life. Autumn will give way to Winter. Life will give way to Death. When my Grandpa Thomas died a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to drive home to be at my mother’s side for his funeral. I was able to catch my mom in quiet moments of longing and grief as she found pictures of him as a younger dad helping build the church his funeral service was now being conducted at. I wanted to take my mother’s sorrow away so desperately. I am so thankful Jesus’ eternal Victory for our sake is so easy to grasp in this pilgrimage of grief across our lives on earth.

The ultimate gift of the Reformation is this certainty and clarity of the Gospel’s application: my grandfather’s life did not end with the Winter of Death. Jesus Christ won the victory for my grandpa and for all who have died in faith and all of us who still live and will indeed die in faith, assuming that is before Jesus’ Second Advent! My Grandpa Thomas now marvels in his Savior’s embrace in the season that comes after Winter. The Spring of the Resurrection that will have no end. New life, forever, because of Jesus Christ alone. Alleluia! The new life cycle of eternity, where Winter’s sorrow and biting chill of death is finally no more, forever.

When the month of October comes around, I recall a walk with my grandpa to collect fallen leaves in Huntington, Indiana in the early 1990’s. I remember the grief of my mother at her father’s passing. I remember that one day my mother and I will also be parted by death. I am so thankful that this parting is temporary because of all Jesus Christ has won for us when he died upon that cross and rose from the dead three days later. I am so thankful that the inevitable Winter of Death, Sorrow, and Grave will certainly be swallowed by the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus Christ, just as he has promised in his own blood. I am thankful to see how the Reformation helps us see, hear, understand, and share with the world how amazing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for us in all our earthly and eternal needs. I pray that you find comfort in the Good News of Jesus Christ just like my mother and I do…as we await the inevitable Spring to come in Eternity. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!

In Christ,

Pastor Dolby


Group Pages