“The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord,” we will sing here soon enough. Over forty years ago brick-by-brick this particular building came to form, and forty years before that our original church structure only blocks away was completed. And yet through it all Jesus Christ remains our one and only true foundation, our one and only reason for the church to exist at all, our one and only source of living. Plenty of people have come and gone in not only raising up the buildings, and serving on committees, and setting up Communion, and preparing for community activities, but Jesus Christ has lived through it all, through every generation that has come and gone.
And as long as Jesus Christ is alive, there will be a church, in some shape and form, to carry out His ministry for the sake of the same world He came long ago to save. Because the world still needs healing. This world still needs hope in spite of all the cynicism that plagues it. This world still needs reminded that God loves the entirety of it. The world still needs the church. And so St. John’s, along with the church universal, will keep on proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed until Christ comes along and says one more time, “It is finished.”
Until then we keep on giving all that we have to muster with the amazing grace of God, this God Who has blessed us with so much in over eight decades of ministry: so many wonderful and talented people who humbly offered their time of service for their sisters and brothers in Christ of this congregation and beyond. With each time we share the precious gift of Jesus’ body and blood, each time we empower our youth through learning and spiritual growth, each time we share laughter in our community-wide activities, it’s as if we lay our own brick of a memory on top of another, piling upon this strong and firmest of foundation in Jesus Christ, our Lord. There is absolutely no limit to the ministry we can do for each other and our neighbors and even impacting people we will never meet. This foundation of Jesus Christ is never, ever going to break from under us.
Now, yes, plenty of pastors have come and gone as well, and left their mark, for good and for ill. But how appropriate this reminder is this morning from Paul, who had more than legitimate reason to feel proud of his accomplishments in raising up churches beyond what any could imagine at the time. However, Paul has to remind them, and himself for that matter, that they are not baptized in his name. Paul did not die on the cross for them. He was not born to save them. Only Jesus could do that. Only Jesus could die and rise again for all of them.
In a way, Paul tells us that it’s not the job of a pastor or any church leader to make you fall in love with them. It’s our job to make you fall in love with Jesus over and over again. It’s our job to point to the Savior, and to keep the focus that the foundation of every church is not the leadership of anyone but Jesus Christ, our Lord. Sometimes we do lose sight of that fact, not just with the clergy, but plenty of other people who do so much for the church. Nevertheless, we do it for the glory of God, not for ourselves, not even for St. John’s or any church. Because no matter how highly we look on ourselves in all the things we do for our community, no matter how much we have to offer, we cannot save anyone. We thought we could many times in our history. We thought we had this mission from God to reel in as many people into the sanctuary so that we could save them for eternity, and with that came benefits of membership and financial contributions and committee service. Those times are gone. And the world knows it. The church does not save people. Only Jesus can do that. And our Lord most certainly has, not only in saving us, but children of God throughout the world. It’s the pastor’s job to make you fall in love with that reality, with that Savior Who pulled it off for you and so many people you will never meet in this lifetime.
And it’s the church’s job, through its mission from God, to make sure that life-altering word gets out. That we by no means keep it inside any brick walls of a sanctuary or Sunday school classroom. We will not only do it through blood drives and hands-up ministries, but we fall in love with this Jesus so much that it will overflow into our day-to-day life: in the workplace and grocery stores and everywhere else in between. Because this Jesus has captivated us in how much He loves us to the point of death and beyond, as if we are still worth all He went through for us. There’s no turning back now. This Jesus has us reeled in, into a love that has never stopped since the beginning of time, even in the face of death itself. Word is still getting out, and it will continue to do so through all of us. God is going to find a way to make sure bricks of compassion and service keep on getting piled up onto this firm foundation of Jesus Christ with absolutely no end in sight. And for that, we most certainly give thanks to God indeed. Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon