Emmaus Lutheran Church - LCMS

Pastor David W. Kern
Worship Service: Sundays at 10 A.M.
Sunday School and Bible Class: Sundays at 9 A.M.

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'… You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-44, 48


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,


There was a day, when like brothers and sisters in a family, you had squabbles daily, but anyone outside the family best not pick a fight with my brother or sister. On a larger scale, we may have squabbles with fellow citizens, but should someone beyond our national borders launch an attack, we are sure to respond in unison. If you were around on the day, September 11, 2001, you remember the shock on first hearing word of the planes flying into the World Trade Center. The first thoughts went to "this could not be…it must be accidental." By the time the plane flew into the second tower, we realized that this was not just a freak accident. While still in shock, we immediately began searching for answers. Who was responsible? Even as our nation turned from rescue into recovery, we sought to find the culprits who were responsible, so that we could hold them to account for their actions.


They say time heals, but so it also has allowed for other changes to take place. Were such an attack take place now, would we still respond in unison, or would we more likely be searching for the person, or persons, who allowed it to happen within our own borders.


We are a nation deeply divided by differences tied to political ideals. Those divisions have been the cause for crimes of hate; murder, assault on fellow citizens, rioting, vandalism, and theft have become all too common in daily news reports, even to the point that sides are polarized in cheering in encouragement or in condemning the acts as wrong. We often seek answers to legitimize our responses, by interpretation of law. More recently, I have even heard those who are Christians attempt sifting through God's Word, to validate their responses.


"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." In the discourse preceding this quote, there was question by some that we might act differently depending upon whether you labeled one to be a neighbor as opposed to being and enemy. And in many cases, the quick labeling of one as "enemy" becomes much easier to claim, than calling one your neighbor. Jesus takes that crutch away from us if we are Christians.


For Jesus, it would have been much easier to call them enemies; the Pharisees and Sadducees (the Sanhedrin as a whole), Herod, Pontius Pilate and his soldiers, the Jews, the Romans…Jesus' disciples, you, and me. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans says, "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Romans 5:10). As the Son of God, Jesus willingly takes up the cross on which He will be crucified and will die, for those who are His enemies, to include you and me.


I pray that we may look upon others, not so much as an opposing force. In the coming weeks, we will again "take up our cross" in the season of Lent. We will be exploring questions, in our relationship to Jesus. Regardless how we see others in the world's view, may we see them as our neighbors as we "Return to the Lord!"


In His grace,


Pastor


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