From the Pastor
Is Sacrifice “Necessary”?
(Hebrews 10:18/Romans 12:1/2 Cor. 9:7-8)
There’s a question I used to ask those who were relatively new to the Christian faith, to test their understanding of Christian doctrine. (I no longer ask the question; it’s a sort of “trick” question designed to draw people out…even if it did lead to some good conversations!) It is this: For Christian believers, is sacrifice necessary?
We all know (or should know) the answer from Sunday School. That answer is an unequivocal “no.” Jesus Christ is the sacrifice for our sins. The author of Hebrews puts it simply: “Where there is forgiveness of [sins], there is no longer any offering for sin” (10:18). Sacrifices are no longer “necessary.” Full stop. All that needed to be done for us to enjoy the rescue of our souls has already been done. Jesus Christ has done it.
So, is sacrifice “necessary”? No. But might some sort of sacrifice, better labeled “thanksgiving” for what God has done for us first, be entirely “appropriate”? “Natural”? Perhaps, even “to be expected”? Yes, of course! For as St. Paul writes to the Romans: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God —this is your true and proper worship” (12:1). Elsewhere, he encourages the sacrifice manifested in financial gifts, writing, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:7-8). We are such a “payment-for-services-rendered” sort of people that we’re used to getting something in return for what we give. We’re not going to succeed in offering ourselves up each day as living sacrifices in thanksgiving to God. But here’s the really great thing: our own offerings (of time, talent, and treasure) are not necessary— they are appropriate, natural, and to be expected because of what God has first done for us. Your offering won’t look like someone else’s. Your offering will be appropriate for what has been entrusted to you to give. Maybe what you have to offer seems too small to be of any use. Do not focus on an amount. Focus instead on the habit of offering what you can! The season of Lent is an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves to this kind of appropriate sacrifice of thanksgiving to God— together.
I was grateful to see so many of you turn out for the Associate Pastor call meeting on Sunday, February 28. The vote convincingly reinforced the recommendation of the Call Committee to move forward with three candidates at Concordia Seminary, any one of whom would be an excellent addition to our team of servant leaders at Resurrection. Now that the decision has been finalized… now that we have been notified by Concordia Seminary we will likely receive one of the three names we have put forward …now is the time for me to ask you to prayerfully consider sacrificing what you can to better enable us to cover salary and benefits for this newly called worker. If you have already made a pledge to support the kingdom work God is doing at RLC in 2021, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are all set! But if you have been putting off the decision to pledge a portion of your income to God’s kingdom work at Resurrection Lutheran Church… if you have been relying on others to “carry the day” at RLC and have not been doing your own part to financially support the work God calls us to, now is the time. It is one thing to want an Associate Pastor and call upon God for a new under-shepherd. It is quite another to ask God to use each of us to make that prayer a reality. I would like to see us add 50 new pledges--people who have never made a pledge to RLC or have not done so in recent years-- to the 75 or so pledges we gathered last November over Stewardship weekend. The pledge will be for the period beginning July 2021 (fiscal 2022). There is a real need. But this is a modest goal. We can do this! You will see more about the count in church publicity in the weeks and months ahead. Please join me as we keep this important process in our prayers.
Now, “To the One who is able to accomplish exceedingly more in us than we are able to ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21)
In thanksgiving for all of you and for all that God is at work accomplishing in you….