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1 Concordia Lutheran Church – December 2016. “Christian Witnessing Part V: Our Life”. Our Lord Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they ...
“The Christian Church…Where Is It? The Marks Part 1” Last month we saw how Scripture teaches that the Church is believers in Christ, and only believers, for it is faith that unites a person to Christ and thereby makes on a member of His body, the Church. But we also noted that since faith is invisible to all but God, we cannot say, “Oh there’s the Church because I see faith in those people.” But does this mean that the Church cannot actually be found then? Not at all. As just said, faith in Triune God focused on the incarnate Christ Jesus crucified and risen is what makes a person a member of the Church. But this faith is not, nor can it be the result of a person’s work, decision, or whatever as Scripture declares people to be spiritually blind, even dead in their sins, yes, enemies of God who are under the devil’s rule and so are objects of His wrath by nature.1 Therefore it is obvious that for a person to come to faith is nothing less than the gracious working of the Holy Spirit upon that person working the miracle of conversion.2 But the Holy Spirit is invisible to, as is His working on a person’s heart. So what are we to do? The thing for us to remember is that the Holy Spirit does this work, but that He does it through His chosen tools or instruments, what we call the means of grace. Just as the “X” on the treasure map is not the treasure itself, but does show you where the treasure is, so also the means of grace are not the Church itself, but they do locate it (marks of the Church), for we can be certain that where the Holy Spirit’s chosen means are, there shall be believers (the Church) there as well. “So knowing what these means are is critical then and that knowledge, rightly, comes from God’s Word, “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which

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1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 5:6, 8, 10; 8:7-8; cf. Psalm 51:5. 1 Corinthians 12:3; Ephesians 2:8-9.

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I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10,11). The first mark of the Church then, quite obviously, is where the Word of God is present. It is the most important thing for without the Word, there can be no believers, and hence no Church, for faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). This is why God called the Patriarchs, the prophets and the priests of old to keep on speaking and teaching His Word. So also, this is why God still calls pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11), to make sure His Word is still being read, proclaimed, and taught so that He might make Christians and preserve them as such. It is no surprise then that the Lutheran Church, in line with the orthodox (right teaching) Church throughout the centuries, has made the reading and the preaching of the Word (the sermon) central to public worship. This is also why the hymns we sing, and the liturgy and ceremonies that we use are so “Word-centered,” so that we hear God’s Word in more than one way. This is why then that a true believer will desire nothing more than to be gathered in public worship to hear God’s Word in the many ways it comes, especially the sermon. It is as Luther insightfully wrote as the meaning for the Third Commandment in the Small Catechism, “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” The Holy Spirit uses the Word of Law to convicts us of our sins (John 16:8), and thus our ongoing need of Christ Jesus. The Word of the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe it (Rom 1:16), the faith needed being created by the Spirit through the very Word being heard. The Spirit then, through His Word, the power of the Gospel and the guidance of the Law, works in us growth in our Christian life of love, holiness, virtue, prayer, and hope of eternal life. This is why Scripture admonishes us to not skip public worship (Heb 10:25); but instead calls us to come regularly (cf. Acts 2:42), not in mere duty, but in joy for the gifts being given through the Word we hear! One final consideration before we leave the first mark of the Church, the Word of God. Where the Word is preached, there the Holy Spirit is working, and so there is the Church. But what about where false teaching is present, adulterating the Word. Consider, those who have the pure Word of God are those who build on the foundation of Christ crucified with “gold, silver, and precious stones,” while those who have

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it impurely are those who build on the same foundation, but with “wood, hay, or straw” (1 Cor 3:11-12). This truth is both grace and warning. On one level, where the pure Word is still coming through, even though mixed with errors, the Holy Spirit is still working and building Christ’s Church. That is why we never say that there are no Christians in an erring church. However, logically speaking, the more errors, the less of the truth, and so again, logically, the fewer Christians as a whole and, also, those who are believers are more prone to have a sicker faith, as it is not being fed the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word (1 Pet 2:2). And please note that this “sickness” may not manifest in what we easily note as spiritual weakness (though it may), but it may well be hidden under a spirituality that seems quite impressive. We need only remember that the Pharisees were such externally fine, seemingly quite strong believers full of works, who were actually sick even unto spiritual death. Therefore, recognize that here too “looks may be deceiving.” So dear friends, let’s be exceptionally joyful that we can be sure that the Church is right hear at Concordia for we have the gift of God’s Word and, by God’s grace alone, have it in its truth and purity. So let us never take that gift for granted, but instead joyfully come to hear it, for the Spirit is working on us through it. And then let us confess it before men in our lives (Matthew 10:32) and be willing to defend it from all corruption and error for the sake of God’s glory, and the salvation of every soul that hears it now or in the future. Sincerely in the name of the Lord of the Church, even Jesus Christ our Savior,

Pastor Nerud

A LOOK AT THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS Last month we continued our study of the Third Part of the Smalcald Articles with the article on the Law. This month we

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begin the article, Repentance,” the longest section in the whole Smalcald Articles. Through this Luther will put forward the proper understanding of repentance, including by showing the errors taught in the Roman Church, errors which have their root in the misunderstanding of original sin and the purpose of the Law (the previous two articles). This month we confess how everyone needs to repent with absolutely no exceptions. The SMALCALD ARTICLES3 THE THIRD PART ARTICLE III Repentance The New Testament keeps and urges this office of the Law, as St. Paul does when he says, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). Also, “the whole world may be accountable to God…No human being will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:19-20). And, Christ says, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin (John 16:8). This is God’s thunderbolt. By the Law He strikes down both obvious sinners and false saints. He declares no one to be in the right, but drives them all together to terror and despair. This is the hammer. As Jeremiah says, “Is not My word like…a hammer that breaks the rock to pieces?” (23:29). This is not active contrition or manufactured repentance. It is passive contrition, true sorrow of heart, suffering, and the sensation of death.4

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From Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2nd Ed., Paul McCain, Ed. CPH, 2006. 4 Active contrition would be that which a person works in his or herself, a work being done by the repentant person. Passive contrition is that which the Holy Spirit works in us through the Law.

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This is what true repentance means. Here a person needs to hear something like this, “You are all of no account, whether you are obvious sinners or saints in your own opinions. You have to become different from what you are. You have to act differently than you are now acting, whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you can be. Here no one is godly.” But to this office of the Law, the New Testament immediately adds the consoling promise of grace through the Gospel.5 This must be believed.6 As Christ declares, “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). That is, become different, act differently, and believe My promise. John the Baptist (preceding Christ) is called a preacher of repentance, but this is for the forgiveness of sins. That is, John was to accuse all and convict them of being sinners. This is so they can know what they are before God and acknowledge that they are lost. So they can be prepared for the Lord [Mark 1:3] to receive grace and to expect and accept from Him the forgiveness of sins. This is what Christ Himself says, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [My] name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). Whenever the Law alone exercises its office, without the Gospel being added, there is nothing but death and hell, and one must despair, as Saul and Judas did [1 Samuel 31; Matthew 27:5]. St. Paul says, through sin the Law kills. [See Romans 7:10]. On the other hand, the Gospel brings consolation and forgiveness. It does so not just in one way, but through the Word and the Sacraments and the like, as we will discuss later. As Psalm 130:7 says against the dreadful captivity of sin, “with the LORD is…plentiful redemption.”

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We of course recognize that the Gospel was also proclaimed in the Old Testament by the patriarchs and prophets, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). However, they proclaimed a Savior to come. With the New Testament the Savior has come. 6 Believing is having faith in the Gospel of Christ.

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MEMORIAL MOMENT: BENEFITS OF CITIZENSHIP Augustine of Hippo7 does not distinguish the heavenly and earthly cities in an absolute dichotomy. They are not mere mirror images of each other. The city of God and the city of man are both upon earth; and although the city of God would also be in heaven, of course, the city of men has no heavenly goal. There are many significant contrasts between the two cities but they do share an earthly battleground. The city of man seeks only earthly and impermanent glory. The city of God is receiving the permanent glory that is Christ's gift to His church. The city of man is ruled by equity, that is, that all have equal opportunity to succeed and receive the world's accolades and rewards. One is bound to get his just reward. That city is also God's creation. It is not just left to the devices of perverse humans, but it is the place of the divine rule according to the moral law, in which rewards and punishments are meted out. The relationship of the citizens with the city of God is different from the citizens of the city of men. Citizenship in the city of God is by naturalization, never by birth. Baptism brings a new citizenship to those who undergo the adoption by rebirth. One is not born a Christian, but reborn into the city of God. Those who are in the city of God labor not for sustenance, sustained as they are on the truth of the Word of God. The citizens of that city have a home that has no end. No urban renewal will destroy the suburb where they shall dwell with God. There is no need of walls, for 7

St. Augustine (354-430) became bishop of the city of Hippo Regius in North Africa (396). He was a Christian theologian who fought vigorously against numerous heresies and also wrote The City of God after the sacking of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 which many claimed happened because Christianity had replaced the pagan gods.

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none who are citizens need be kept out and Christ Himself is her full protector. Labor for food has no place there. The Lord Himself feeds His children on body and blood served at the altar of His city. The city of God is not ruled by equity, for all those who are in that kingdom do not deserve the benefits of its citizenship. Its gifts come by grace, not by works. While in this life the two cities are always entangled, they are distinguishable because one is ruled by law, the other by the gospel. © Scott R. Murray, 2017

GRACE MOMENT: I DON’T WANT TO BE PREGNANT ANYMORE What do you do when a woman confides in you that she’s pregnant but doesn’t want the baby? It could be any combination of 50 reasons—her boyfriend is threatening to leave her, she can’t afford to raise a child, it will interfere with her career, this wasn’t the time in her life when she had planned for a child, whatever—but the fact is she is confiding in you before she seeks an abortion because she wants to know what you think. That is your moment to speak not only for the unborn child within her but for God himself. While you feel compassion for the terrible tension in her life situation, it is even more important to pay attention to God’s point of view. God thinks that it is he who creates all human life; that a child is a person already in the womb; and that each child, born and unborn, is a masterpiece of his design and biomedical engineering. “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . . When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body” (Psalm 139:13-16). Explore non-abortive options and talk them through with her. Identify pro-life counseling opportunities and go along. Pray for her and with her. Above all, claim God’s promise that when we do what is right, he will send the resources. © Pastor Mark Jeske, Grace Moments, www.timeofgrace.org

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PRAYER REQUESTS Donna Anderson Beverly Laabs Milton Schmidt Alma Schroeder

Dean & Joyce Hawkinson Doug & Dorothy Kersten Anthony & Amy Skuza Marlin & Alma Schroeder Earl & Gwen Gehrke Leroy & Linda Rose

Greg Beckers Carla Scheffert Lucy Schmidt Rolin Stuve

August 1st August 10th August 14th August 15th August 19th August 26th

Jason Buboltz Aug 1 Dan Kersten Aug 12 Rollie Stuve Aug 3 Larry Hartel Aug 18 Sheila Stuve Aug 4 Vi Gutknecht Aug 19 Vivian Vadner Aug 4 Laurie Kersten Aug 31 **Reminder if your birthday or anniversary is not listed the secretary might not have it on file, we are missing a few. Please let Heidi Vinkemeier know if yours might be one of them, thank you.

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Why we do what we do in worship The Church Year (Liturgical Calendar)— Epiphany Let us continue our discussion of the seasons and festivals of the Church Year. As we noted in previous articles, the church year begins with the Time of Christmas, which is then subdivided into an Advent season, a Christmas season, and an Epiphany season. This month we conclude our study of the Time of Christmas by looking at the Epiphany season. While for the average Christian Christmas is the likely the number one festival, that was not the case with the early church. Epiphany, which means manifestation, came first, being the second oldest annual festival in the church year (Easter being the first).8 We have a record of Epiphany being celebrated by the late second/early third century AD and, as should be expected, it is likely that it was already being observed earlier in some manner as it takes time for something to grow in importance and, consequently, to spread to an increasing number of churches. The assumed reason for the date of January 6 for Epiphany is that it was the date of the pagan festival celebrating the birth of Aion (or Aeon) the god of time, eternity, and the afterlife. While we cannot be absolutely certain, if such is the case, then it is again an example of the Church reclaiming time for the One who created it,9 the One who is “God in flesh made manifest”10 by His miraculous star, authoritative teaching, miracles, and glorious transfiguration. Originally, Epiphany was a “catch-all” festival that included Christ’s birth, His Baptism, and in some cases, His first miracle of turning water to wine at the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11). Later (by at least 354 8

Of interest, Epiphany was called the Theophany (“revelation of God”) by many early Christians and this remains the name used for this festival in much of Eastern Orthodoxy. 9 Recall my earlier article that declared the Biblical truth of time being God’s creation as much as matter and energy, so it too should declare His glory and works as much as the mountains, stars, etc. As previously stated, the Liturgical Calendar is one main way the Church has proclaimed this truth. 10 From the Epiphany hymn “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise,” Lutheran Service Book #394.

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AD), with Christ’s birth being celebrated on December 25, Epiphany no longer had that as a focus. Since then, Epiphany has seen more changes still.11 During the Middle Ages, the huge shifting of the emphasis of Epiphany to the coming of the Wise Men occurred. This may have been because the (supposed) relics of the Magi were transferred to Cologne, which put a greater importance on that event throughout Germany and the West. Whatever the cause, as an example, Luther’s Epiphany preaching was based upon the Wise Men coming to worship Christ, which is far from the original focus in the early church. While this is not wrong, it did lead to a loss of preaching on Christ’s baptism which was originally a part of Epiphany as we noted. This trend continued in American Lutheranism and, for our purpose, the LC-MS until the release of Lutheran Worship (hymnal, 1982) and the new three-year lectionary.12 This kept the Wise Men as the focus of Epiphany, but made the First Sunday after the Epiphany the celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord.13 Epiphany itself, with its current focus on the coming of the Magi, still declares God’s manifestation in Christ Jesus, as those Gentiles came to worship the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). This also lends a mission focus in that just as the light of the star led these Gentiles to the Christ Child, so also does the light of the Word leads all those in darkness (Jew or Gentile) to Jesus who is the light of the world. The liturgical color is white, highlighting the divinity and purity of Jesus, and the joy of those who find Him in faith and worship Him. The Epiphany season begins with Epiphany on January 6 and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Therefore it varies in length 11

For accuracy’s sake, it should be noted that most of what is written here is referring to the Western (Latin speaking) Church, from which Lutherans trace our descent. The Eastern (Greek speaking) Church has not followed the majority of these changes, remaining much closer to the original tradition. 12 A lectionary is a series of appointed readings from the Bible based upon the particular Sunday or festival. The usage of such goes back to early Christianity and, it seems likely, even earlier to the Jewish synagogue. 13 Unfortunately, as Epiphany is a fixed date, it falls on a Sunday only occasionally. While festivals can often be moved to the next Sunday, this is not done with Epiphany as the following Sunday is the festival of our Lord’s baptism, which, we recall, was an earlier focus of Epiphany and is regarded as a festival in its own right.

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depending on the date of Ash Wednesday (which depends on the date of Easter). As mentioned, the First Sunday after the Epiphany is always celebrated as the Baptism of Our Lord. Here all the Holy Trinity is manifested, which further manifests Christ as the Son of God. Also, the substitutionary nature of Christ’s work is underscored as He receives the baptism of sinners. Understandably, the blessings of our own baptism into Christ are also highlighted. Again the color is white, highlighting the sinless perfection of God’s incarnate Son who comes to earth as a true man to save sinners. The Sundays between the first and the last Sunday of Epiphany focus on the ways that Jesus manifests His divinity, with a special emphasis on His miracles, especially His miracles of healing. By such He manifests not only His divinity, but He gives a picture and promise of what He came to earth for: the full deliverance from sin, death, and the devil that all who believe in Him shall eternally enjoy in the new heavens and earth. The liturgical color for this part of the Epiphany season is green, symbolizing the growth of Jesus’ ministry. The Epiphany season ends on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, which is celebrated as the Transfiguration of Our Lord. This is a significant and uniquely Lutheran contribution to the Christian calendar, one that is now being celebrated by several Protestant denominations. This feast commemorates Peter, James, and John’s glimpse of that most glorious manifestation of Jesus’ divinity when He shines in radiant splendor and is seen to be the center of the both the Law and the Prophets as proven by the presence of Moses and Elijah. The color for the vestments and paraments returns to white for this festival, highlighting the divine majesty of Jesus which manifested on the mountain. A final aspect to note is that this is the last Sunday that we sing “Alleluia” in the service for a while, as we are about to shift from the glory of the Epiphany season, seen especially in the Transfiguration, to the season of Lent. But that is for next month.

Apologetics: One man, one woman, Does the Bible really teach monogamy?14 Origin of marriage

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By Jonathan Sarfati; http://creation.com/monogamy-bible-one-man-woman

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The clearest evidence that monogamy is God’s ideal is from Christ’s teaching on marriage in Matthew 19:3–6. In this passage, He cited the Genesis creation account, in particular Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, saying “the two will become one flesh”, not more than two. Another important biblical teaching is the parallel of husband and wife with Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5:22–33, which makes sense only with monogamy—Jesus will not have multiple brides. The 10th Commandment “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife [singular] … ” (Exodus 20:17) also presupposes the ideal that there is only one wife. Polygamy is expressly forbidden for church elders (1 Timothy 3:2). And this is not just for elders, because Paul also wrote: “each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Paul goes on to explain marital responsibilities in terms that make sense only with one husband to one wife. The example of godly people is also important. Isaac and Rebekah were monogamous—they are often used as a model in Jewish weddings today. Other examples were Joseph and Asenath, and Moses and Zipporah. And the only survivors of the Flood were four monogamous couples. Polygamy’s origins and consequences It is very important to remember that not everything recorded in the Bible is approved in the Bible. Consider where polygamy originated—first in the line of the murderer Cain, not the line of Seth. The first recorded polygamist was the murderer Lamech (Genesis 4:23–24). Then Esau, who despised his birthright, also caused much grief to his parents by marrying two pagan wives (Genesis 26:34).

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God also forbade the kings of Israel to have “many wives” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Look at the trouble when Israel’s kings disobeyed, including deadly sibling rivalry between David’s sons from his different wives (2 Samuel 13, 1 Kings 2); and Solomon’s hundreds of wives helped lead Solomon to idolatry (1 Kings 11:1– 3). What about godly men who were polygamous? Abraham and Sarah would have been monogamous apart from a low point in their faith when Hagar became a second wife—note how much strife this caused later with Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants to this day (Genesis 16, 21). Jacob wanted only Rachel, but was tricked into marrying her older sister Leah, and later he took their slave girls at the sisters’ urging, due to the rivalry between the sisters. Jacob was hardly at a spiritual high point at those times, and neither was David when he added Abigail and Ahinoam (1 Samuel 25:42–43). Also, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, was humiliated by her husband Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah because of Hannah’s previous barrenness (1 Samuel 1:1– 7). Why did God seem to allow it, then? God’s permitting of polygamy seems more like the case of divorce, which God tolerated for a while under certain conditions because of the hardness of their hearts. But it was not the way it was intended from the beginning (Matthew 19:8). Whenever the Mosaic law had provisions for polygamy, it was always the conditional: “If he takes another wife to himself … ” (Exodus 21:10), never an encouragement. God put a number of obligations on the husband towards the additional wives, which would discourage polygamy. In view of the problems it causes, it is no wonder that polygamy was unknown among the Jews after the Babylonian exile, and monogamy was the rule even among the Greeks and Romans by New Testament times.

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Food Shelf News This has been such a long overdue Thank You for the love and support you showed during our March annual fundraiser. Because of your faithfulness and always striving to do better, we exceeded our goals from the previous year! Thrivent inspired us with their “seed money” of $250.00 which grew into a gift of $901.16 and 237 lbs of food to donate to the Kimball Food Shelf. What a blessing to be a part of God’s family that works together to reach out into our community to serve others! A HUGE THANK YOU TO YOU FROM THE KIMBALL FOODSHELF AND US! From Lutherans for Life: Charlie Gard15 Charlie Gard turned eleven months old on Independence Day. He may not make it to twelve months. Charlie has a terminal diagnosis. Medical experts believe infantile-onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS) will end his life. This rare condition remains incurable. Charlie has suffered seizures and brain damage. He can’t move his limbs on his own, and his muscles grow progressively weaker. He needs a tube to feed him and a machine to breathe for him. Some months ago, doctors recommended removing the ventilator. “Let him go; he needn’t keep living like this.” Dad Chris and Mom Connie requested their baby’s release from his London hospital. American physicians were ready to attempt experimental therapy unavailable in the U.K. Eighteen people in the U.S. have been treated with an oral medication of natural compounds to remedy MDDS. An internet appeal even raised 1.3 million pounds to pay for it. The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) refused. Multiple British and European courts endorsed that decision to 15

By Michael W. Salemink; http://www.lutheransforlife.org/article/charlie-gard/ This article was written before the death of little Charlie, but the points it makes are valuable for all us all to consider as we contemplate such issues as Christians who first and foremost look to God’s Word for guidance.

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deny. They concluded that seeking the treatment wouldn’t “serve Charlie’s best interests” but only “expose him to prolonged suffering.”16 Magistrates have ordered life support removed— against the parents’ will (and against Charlie’s will also). “We just CAN’T let our baby die when there is something that might help him!” Connie pleads. “We won’t give up on him because he has a rare disease. He deserves a chance and he deserves a life.” “If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting,” Dad adds. The Vatican Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome has offered to assume Charlie’s care. But GOSH persists in retaining custody (even though nobody has assigned them that authority). Chris and Connie aren’t even allowed to take Charlie home to die. “We want to give him a bath at home, sit on the sofa with him, sleep in the bed with him,” Charlie’s parents explain. “But now we’re being denied that.” Such situations involve weighing subjective judgments. Does any slim chance at improvement justify certain side effects? What course of action—or inaction—achieves Charlie’s overall welfare? Experimental treatments represent only educated guesses and best estimates. But so do terminal diagnoses. Both science and Scripture testify that biological parents are best positioned to protect and provide for their children, unless the parents prove patently incapable. The Almighty Maker has entrusted fathers and mothers with these deliberations and decisions. He has equipped them not only with minds but also with hearts for the duty. Chris and Connie are obviously not incompetent. They are not careless. They are not acting out of malice or being abusive. Businesses like hospitals operate with profit, public perception, 16

Pastor Nerud: Tragically, it seems that if Charlie could have been treated earlier he may have been able to be helped. Of course we’ll never know, but the legal system took away the opportunity to ever find out, taking it away from the parents to whom God has given primary authority over children.

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apportioning resources, and satisfaction of the greatest percentage of customers as highest priorities. Governments best serve the populace when they safeguard the sacred family relationships rather than subvert them. This month’s holiday observance reminds us of the importance of maintaining these strict limits. Forcing doctors and hospitals to participate in procedures they oppose undercuts the usefulness of their expertise. But neither ought the institutions compel the parents. They love Charlie more than medical practitioners do. They love their son better than legal professionals. And parental compassion imparts comforts in difficulty that chemicals, devices, and verdicts can neither replace nor approximate. Abortion activists want unwilling doctors to refer. Assisted-suicide enthusiasts likewise would make physicians who decline taking part in such a procedure to connect patients with providers who do practice it. Two states obligate pregnancy resource centers to inform their clients about the availability of government-funded terminations. Why aren’t these same voices calling for Charlie Gard’s transfer, or at least his discharge? What about Charlie’s autonomy? What about his parents’ rights and choices? Where has the opposition to bureaucratic interference in health care gone? Critics often accuse the for-life community of interest only in babies before birth and ignoring them after. Yet we fight for Charlie and stand alongside Chris and Connie while almost all others fall silent and sit still. We ask the real question because we are not afraid of the right answer. Is a life beset with suffering really still worth living? In the fallenness of humankind, no life can escape affliction. Creation’s brokenness makes surviving without suffering impossible. Everybody hurts. Yet under God’s grace, pain never occurs without purpose. Christ Jesus crucified and resurrected portrays, proclaims, and performs greater goods for humankind than painlessness or even pleasure. No one hurts hopelessly. God’s Son

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incarnate among us redeems the most awful experiences and gives us community, sanctity, and dignity in the midst of them. Every life, every human being in every state and at every stage, enjoys this infinite preciousness because our Father and Savior has made and died for and joined to each one eternally. And Lutherans For Life will keep speaking truth to change hearts and keep showing love to save lives.

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