November 2020: Living with the End in Mind
When you start a project do you envision in your head what it will look like when you are done? Consider woodworking: a carpenter has to have a good idea what the table looks like before he starts sawing wood. A painter? An artist who sculpts out of clay? Maybe its crochet? Any creative or productive work starts with a vision, or road map.
When I was at Seminary there was much talk of “outcome based” education. The theory went if you crafted the ideal pastor in your head, figured out what qualities he might need, and then build the curriculum around forming that image of a pastor in the students, the quality of pastor in our Synod would increase. The curriculum changed to reflect that philosophy in the midst of my education, so it may not be possible to see if the fruit of such a change for years to come. Regardless, the reasoning is sound; if you have a specific thing in mind and pursue that the probability of that vision becoming reality increases.
What do you think was in God’s mind when he opened his mouth at the dawn of creation and spoke light into existence? Did he have a vision of what it would like at the end? Not just at the end of the creating act, but at the end of time itself, when what is now passes away and the life of the world to come begins?
Luther’s Small Catechism: The Third Article: Sanctification
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.
We believe that God has a plan for the end, that he has the end in mind. That even before creation he knew how “on the Last Day He [would] raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.” Like a woodworker, or a painter, or a sculptor, or a curriculum development director, God has a vision for all things. God operates with the end in mind.
My question for you, and for the whole church during these last weeks of the church year, is, do you live with the end in mind? How does our understanding and faith in God and His plan for His creation affect how we live today? In scripture we get a sense of what the end looks like, the general pattern of what will come to be. Based on that, as we craft with God the narrative of our lives, does knowing the end of the story change how we make choices here and now?
I believe the answer is, yes. The carpenter must be very deliberate with his actions as he begins to make the woodcuts that make the pieces that will constitute a table. The Christian has the Word and the Sacraments, the full armor of God, relationships with family and neighbor, and opportunities to love and serve. How will these constituent parts come together to form a vision of your life that has the end in mind?
These questions will be at the forefront of our meditations on the Scriptures in worship for most of November. Consider looking over the passage in advance as we walk together. On Wednesdays at 1:00PM we have Bible study and live stream going over the passages of the lectionary for the week. It’s a great way to grow and prepare for worship.
Sermon Series: Living with the End in Mind
November 1: All Saints, Revelation 7:2-17 + Mathew 5:1-11
November 8: Proper 27, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
November 15: Proper 28, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
November 22: Last Sunday of the Church Year, Matthew 25:31-46
Other than that, I would like to point your attention to the worship schedule included where you find all the hymn numbers for the month. If you would like borrow a hymnal form church you are free to do so, just make sure you sign it out with the church office.
Also, I am now offering pastoral counseling over zoom, if requested. See below for details. The session can be scheduled over the phone or completely online if that is your preference.
Planning Sermons with the End in Mind,
Pastor Jeremiah is available for pastoral counseling, private confession and absolution, pre-marriage (or marriage refresh!) counseling, or theological inquiry concerning Baptism, Biblical study, and any spiritual concerns. Appointments can be made for in-person sessions or virtually via Zoom.
You can schedule you own appointment online at https://calendly.com/stpaulsbpastor or simply call the office at 574-271-1050, or pastor on his cell phone at 217-430-7853.
Note: Virtual counseling requires smart phone, tablet, or computer with microphone and webcam.