Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Together in Christ 6/05/09

Prayer: Lord, Bind Us Together In Love!

KJV John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
KJV John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

KJV John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

As the time of our 2009 Apostolic Lutheran Convention draws nearer, and we continue to ask the Lord to bind us together in love, we again focus on the two theme verses of our upcoming time of fellowship together. The intended result of Jesus' prayer (17:20-21) for His body (the church) is that we would be one in and with the Father and the Son so that by the testimony of this love within His body, the world may believe that God sent His Son to this world. The second verse (13:35) reveals to us that we will be known as His disciples within His body through the evidence that we have God's love to another. By these verses we could conclude that mission work begins within the church, through the evidence of love that is experienced, shared and demonstrated between and among us who are in the body of Jesus Christ. That which we are within the body of Jesus Christ is
the foundation of our witness to the world.

To develop this thought let us take a look at something that many of us do, but often times to us may become commonplace.. Question: How do we begin as well as end our meetings/conversations with others? Whether it is personal conversation, on the telephone, with email, when texting, or whatever the mode of communication may be?

Within our ALC Federation it is our custom to greet one another with the greeting of God's Peace, when we meet as well as when we part. As God's child, we possess the peace of God through the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and, therefore we not only acknowledge this peace in our hearts, but we also desire to extend this peace to all we come in contact with. As it true with many customs, regular and continual practices can over time become ritualistic, losing their significance and meaning to us. This happens not because we do it too much, but rather, because we tend to forget the meaning of it as well as the intended purpose of it. The Russian Christians, whom we have had fellowship with, add two words to the end of their greeting. When they greet, they say, "God's Peace to you"! By adding the two words, "to you," they not only acknowledge that they have the peace of God, but they also extend that peace to the one that they greet.

Greetings are not meant to be extended without meaning. They only become commonplace and lacking in depth of meaning if we use them in a ritualistic manner or as second nature. We recognize that these are good traditions to uphold and to practice, but always with the awareness of the danger of the custom or ritual becoming a trademark or an identifying mark of a tradition that in an unintentional manner may be used to exclude rather than to include others.

Question: What other greetings do we use other than God's Peace? What significance do words such as these or others mean to us? Do they reflect the knowledge we have of Christ Jesus? Let me illustrate with a personal example of how I would answer these questions.

I currently close emails with the words "Together in Christ." But I have not always done this, as when I began to close emails with different words other than God's Peace, I initially used the words "In Christ," for the reason that through Jesus Christ we possess peace of God. One day I received an email from a brother in Christ in which he closed his email with the words, "Always in Christ."
I replied back to him, thanking him for showing to me a more meaningful way to close a conversation, for it reflected not only that we are in Christ, but that we have His assurance that we will always be in Christ. So, for some time I used these closing words, "Always in Christ," until one day a sister in faith closed her email to me with the words, "Together in Christ." Those words hit home with me and connected many of the dots concerning the truth that we as God's children are all one in Christ. Even though the greeting "Always in Christ" was sufficient, the words "Together in Christ" better reflected the revelation of Jesus into my heart today. For the revelation/knowledge of Jesus Christ into our heart is ongoing, as Jesus said in the last verse of the 17th chapter of John.

KJV John 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

May we today thank Him for the renewed and ever growing awareness of that which God has done for us, is doing for us today and promises to do for us in the future; through His Son, Jesus Christ
And the experience of being united with Christ is evidenced by our oneness within His body, the church.

Together in Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 05 Jun 2009 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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