Understanding Our Anniversary
The convention of the Church of the Lutheran Confession will be held on the campus of Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire June 19-23. At this convention the CLC will observe its 40th anniversary.
The establishment of the CLC is dated from the constituting convention at Trinity Lutheran Church in Watertown, S. Dak. in August 1960. For forty years the God of all grace has guided and directed the CLC through the pits and valleys that confront a church seeking to maintain a confessional Lutheran stance in these days in which such confessionalism is buffeted by all kinds of winds.
We believe that it can be said, not in a spirit of complaint, but with an attitude of thanksgiving both for the testing and the grace of God: “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair . . . ” (2 Cor. 4:8). But through these forty years the CLC still stands–a bit weather-beaten, but firmly–because it has been built upon the Word (Matthew 7:24-28). As people of flesh, we have tested the Lord. But we have seen that our long-suffering God is faithful. Our God is good!
That our church still stands is not in and of itself a confirmation of its validity. After all, there are church bodies much older than ours which still exist even though they have kicked over the traces.
The continued life of a standing church is meaningful only if it remembers its purpose for being. That purpose of the church is not self-perpetuation. Such an attitude leads to what we see in so many churches today–compromise and loss of doctrinal integrity. A church that is seeking to redefine itself or find a message for the new century is a church adrift.
As we observe our anniversary, we are grateful to the Lord not simply for forty years but for the eternal message we have been privileged to proclaim. It is the ministry of our Lord and His resurrection which created the Holy Christian Church and which gives a church made up of confessors of Christ its message.
However, it is not sufficient for a church simply to speak about the Lord. The Lord has given the message first of all that by His Spirit it may be inwardly digested and fill the hearts of God’s people. The message of Christ and Him crucified has a hollow sound if it is not first of all believed in the heart.
A church makes meaningful proclamation when Jesus is the object and substance of the faith of its people. Only they who know that they are by nature dead in trespasses and sins can proclaim the new life in Christ with fervor. Only they who realize that since the fall they are under the wrath of God and who know and believe in the heart that Christ has overcome sin and death can speak the message with conviction. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Where that is the faith and substance of what is preached, there will be a church with a message and therefore a purpose. That will be a church that is a blessing to many.
The walk of the women to the tomb in the early morning hours was not merely an early morning stroll. It had a purpose. The existence of a church body for one year, forty years, or one hundred years is purposeful if its members proclaim with heartfelt conviction: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).
With that faith supported by our Lord’s promise both by the resurrection itself as well as His word (“Because I live, you shall live also” Jn. 14:19), the Church–and the church in which its members reside–shall never be irrelevant. The church body in which its members believe the message it proclaims will appreciate the commission of Christ (Mt. 28:19-20). It will proclaim the “heart-felt” message of everlasting life in Christ and celebrate its anniversary, not in praise of self but with thankfulness.
As we observe forty years, more importantly we celebrate with thanksgiving the message of victory over death and the devil, and the gift of eternal life in the risen Christ. This celebration will endure when anniversaries are no more.
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).
–Pastor Daniel Fleischer