Bishop and Christian*, June 2015

Summer is upon us, and we take vacations from all sorts of things: school, work, regular routines and schedules, etc. Our bodies, created by God, require rest and relaxation—which is the primary reason God instituted the Sabbath in the Old Testament. We normally need a day off from work (which also means making sure that, if we have them, those who work for us receive a day off each week), and occasionally we need more time to visit family and friends. These things are all good, and we should give thanks to God for these blessings, which all come from Him.

At the same time we sometimes, even without thinking it through, take a vacation from those things that we need to live. Which would be a strange thing to do. Normally, we do not take vacations from food, or water, or sleep. Nor do we take vacations from relatively less necessary things such as love and care for our families, or being good stewards of what God has given us, or doing the things required of us by the government. Imagine taking a vacation from drinking water. Imagine taking a vacation from serving your wife, or from telling your husband that you love him. Imagine taking a vacation from obeying traffic signals. And yet, we often take vacations from things that are no less necessary—in fact, far more necessary. Things like hearing the Word of God; receiving Christ’s Body and Blood in the Supper; raising our children in the fear and instruction of the Lord; studying the Bible and praying. These are far greater gifts of God than even bodily gifts, because they, unlike food or government, are eternal. They give us eternal life and forgiveness of sins, and keep us safe from the devil, the temptations of the world, and our own sinful flesh, because they are Jesus’ own ways of coming to us. It can only be a callous, faithless heart, or a mind captive to the devil or the flesh, that would despise these gifts by taking a vacation from them.

Wherever you find yourselves this summer, seek out a congregation with which we are in fellowship (The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod [LCMS] or The American Association of Lutheran Churches [TAALC]) and rejoice that God never takes a vacation from giving you all of the fruits of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension for you in the forms of Word and Sacrament!

The Hymn of the Month for June is Lutheran Service Book 594, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.” This hymn is a good reminder to us of our fundamental identity: “I am baptized into Christ!” Sin cannot disturb our souls any longer; Satan must hear and give way; even death cannot end our gladness. It sings the full-throated hope of our resurrection: “Open-eyed my grave is staring: even there I’ll sleep secure. Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising: I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!” (stanza 5). I suspect that this hymn might have you humming along throughout the summer.

Pr. Winterstein

*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”

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