Reverend Robert Zagore set the tone for our time together reminding us that even though we live in difficult times we can still live joyful lives. God defines our lives, and He has chosen to love us. We are now given to love -- especially those entangled in abortion and death. Jesus died for their lives, just as He died for our lives.
President Matthew Harrison gave our opening address. He walked us through his new book Why Am I Joy:Fully Lutheran? In this book Harrison uses Luther's Small Catechism as a jumping point to identifying our life in Christ. Each part of the catechism connects us with the Bible -- God's Word. When God speaks He does what he says. God uses His word to create in us a good conscience. His Word comes and accuses us; and his Word comes to us and gives us forgiveness. With a good conscience we live in joy. In this Word God makes us, who were dead in our trespasses and sins, to be alive in Christ. We can live free from guilt and shame. Harrison then explained Luther's way of "praying" the catechism. Anchoring his prayer in the Word of God, Luther would read a portion of the catechism and then ask himself, "what is God instructing me." He would talk it out and develop it in his own words. Then he would give God thanks for His word and action in his life. After that Luther would confess how he has sinned in light of what the Lord has taught, and finally he would pray freely -- basking in God's Word and the life He has given and restored through the forgiveness of sins. God's Word raises from the dead. The picture above is President Harrison reminding us that Lazarus did not make himself alive! You are alive in Christ, and God rejoices in you!
We ended the evening with "Evening Prayer" from our LSB hymnal. Reverend Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa preached on the first 4 verses of 1 John 1. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete." Our faith is not dependent upon any subjective opinion or feeling about God. Our faith is dependent upon the Apostles and the witness that they bring to us from the 1st century. Our fellowship with the Apostles defines us as Christians, and it is in that fellowship that we receive life, and the freedom to live. We are not consumed by the truth of ourselves, but we believe in a truth that comes from outside of us, and changes us, and makes us alive. Now we can march. Not in the arrogance of ourselves, but in the Joy of Christ and love for our neighbor.
We do not march to protest; we march to confess!