Thursday, July 28, 2016

Reliving my renewal

Yesterday I referenced some cleaning that Sherri and I are doing around the house.  As we were sorting through the "keep" stuff and the "send to Savers" stuff I happened upon a CD recording of our Welcome Home event at church following renewal.

Sherri and I had put together a slide show of activities and events we had participated in while being gone May, June and July 2011.  The centerpiece of the renewal for us was the three weeks we spent in Europe.

We experienced the Vienna, Austria Arts and Music Fair.  We spent a few days in Salzburg, Austria, touring churches and getting the "Sound of Music" experience.  We traveled to Leipzig, Germany for BachFest (the picture above is the St. Thomas Church where Bach served and wrote music for the church that has stood the test of time).  We visited Wittenburg, Germany where we immersed ourselves in all things Martin Luther.  We also enjoyed the time we spent in London, England.  A day trip to Liverpool to immerse ourselves in all things Beatles was a highlight.  And we won't soon forget our week in Cambridge, England and our visit to the Pastor's Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in England.

Listening to that recording filled my heart with a strong sense of gratitude.  I really needed that summer of renewal.  In a congregational vote the members supported my request by 94% to 6%. When we weren't traveling we were visiting churches in the area, looking closely at worship and music styles.  One thing became clear to Sherri and me - God had blessed us richly when He called us to come and serve at Life in Christ.

We attended churches that did not offer their members the chance to hear the two great messages of the Bible - Law and Gospel.  Important elements of worship like confession and absolution, the creed and the Lord's Supper were MIA.  Some pastors preached moralistic sermons that made mere or no mention of Jesus.  It's no wonder that some Christians have no idea of just how magnificent the grace of God really is.  They never hear about it and they rarely receive it when they gather for church.

By the time we finished the three months away Sherri and I had come to embrace the words of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" - "There is no place like home!"  Our renewal helped us to really appreciate and give thanks for the home we have with our church family at Life in Christ Lutheran Church!