From the Pastor 2.jpg

Dear Friends in Christ, 

 

Prepare for battle!  No, not the battle raging over immigration, or abortion, or sexuality, or government spending and policies, or vaccinations, but the raging battle that started far longer ago than any of that.  The old evil foe fighting against the Lord and His Church; the battle that began when Satan attacked in the very beginning and that has been raging ever since.

It is good to be reminded of that.  St. Paul tells us in Ephesians: "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).  Satan wants to turn us against God and against one another.  He wants us to demonize one another, instead of setting our attention on him as the true demon and source of evil and conflict.  And he does a pretty good job, doesn't he?  How often do we see other people as our enemies instead of sheep Jesus wants to seek and find and bring into His fold; as enemies instead of confused and deceived sinners in need of forgiveness...just like us?

Thankfully, though we are easy to deceive and distract and mislead, Jesus is not.  Satan could not overcome Him and still can't.  Jesus remains laser-focused on on thing alone--our salvation and the salvation of all people.  And though it may look at times as if Satan is winning and Jesus is losing (just look at what is happening in our culture and world!), the cross shows us that it is not so.  There, it looked as if Jesus had lost the fight in a big way, but He actually used His death to win the victory for us in His resurrection.  The darkest day of death turned into the brightest light of victory on Easter Sunday.

So in this season of Advent--as we prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth, but more importantly prepare for His final return--how do we stand, how do we live, how do we survive this raging battle?  What weapons do we have?

Well, St. Paul goes on in Ephesians to tell us: Truth, righteousness, peace, the Word of God, and prayer (Ephesians 6:13-20).  We speak the truth against falsehood and error.  We live not in our own  self-righteous-ness, but in the righteousness of Christ given to us.  We live in the peace of forgiveness that we receive and give.  We live in the strength of the Spirit-filled Word of God, and in praying to our heavenly Father in every need.  These may not seem like powerful weapons, but they are.  It is Satan who wans us to lay them down and fight with the weapons of the world, because he knows that makes us weaker.

So in a world that is shouting its false views?  We will speak the truth in love.

In a world that tells us to take revenge and stand up for our rights?  We will forgive.

In a world that is constantly seeking to justify themselves and their actions?  We will rely on the righteousness of Christ.

In a world of many different words and truths?  We will live in the Word of God and His truth.

And in a world of "us against them?"  We will pray for all people and for unity in Christ.

Some might think of that as running away from the battle, but it is the very opposite!  To do these things is to throw yourself into the fray and weaken Satan.  It won't be easy, but no battle ever is.  So we'll engage the world--not on their terms, but with Christ and His weapons.  And He who came to us in the manger, fought for us on the cross, fights for us still, and is coming again--in the end He will be victorious.

So don't be afraid!  Don't give in, and don't give up.  We know how it all turns out!  Blessed Advent!

Pastor M. <t><