As the baseball season for the Tigers wraps up, another season – “conference season” – arrives for me.  This week I spent two days in Frankenmuth for the Circuit Visitors’ Conference, with some Best Practices mixed in.  One week from today I will be wrapping up a two-day stay in Hillsdale for IIM continuing education.  Then, sometime in October, Monica and I will spend a few days in Boyne for the All-District Pastors’ Conference.  While being gone for this many days makes it a little more difficult to keep up with all the routine and necessary activities, this new season puts me in the presence of many great speakers.
One this week was Dr. Jeff Kloha, the curator of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.  Jeff is an LCMS pastor who formerly taught at one of our seminaries.  Even though he introduced himself by saying, “When people hear the word ‘museum’, they think ‘boring, and when they hear Bible they think the same – so I must be ‘boring squared’”, he was exceptional.  The museum sounds fascinating to me (for more information go to  Dr. Kloha, who by the way, is from the Bay City, MI area, spoke of a couple themes I have been discussing with many lately – the Kingdom of God and its interaction with “the powers of this dark world.” (Ephesians 6.12)
The Kingdom of God is all about the fact that Jesus is Lord.  When we say this, we are saying two things.  First we are proclaiming that Jesus is divine – which was challenging for the early church, because Caesar was called lord (divine).  Secondly with these words we proclaim that he is The Ruler who reigns today.  In other words, it may look like “the powers of this dark world” are in control (and they would have us think this way), but the truth is that “the light of the world” (John 8.12) reigns.  Of himself Paul writes, “This grace was given to me:  to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.  His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 3.8-10)
Jesus begins his earthly ministry by stating, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1.15) His life on earth is filled with him “proclaiming and doing” the Kingdom as he introduces/establishes the Kingdom of God through four actions.  1) providing daily bread; 2) seeking the lost; 3) gathering people to himself; and 4) suffering.  Then, after he is raised back to life on the third day he says, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20.21) In other words, these four timeless activities of God in the world have been entrusted (to a certain degree) to us – or are accomplished today by him working in us through the Holy Spirit!
While we know that God “richly and daily provides (all) with all that (we) need to support this body and life.” (First Article, Small Catechism), we – as Christ’s body on earth today – are sent to make sure everyone receives and is aware.  This is accomplished as we seek the lost and gather them together in the arms of Jesus.  And, although it is in our (sinful) nature to try to avoid it, our sending includes suffering … after all, we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ “who for the joy set before him endured the cross”. (Hebrews 12.2)
Talk about a boatload of good news!  First of all, no matter how dark this world may seem at times, these words of Jesus stand true: “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8.12) Or, as John puts it in his prologue, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1.5) and “The true light, which gives light to everyone, has come into the world.” (John 1.9) … and is “with us always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20) There is never a time or reason for us to feel afraid, alone, or threatened – we have “the light of life!”
As I was writing this, word came that my brother’s wife was called home early Wednesday morning.  We are saddened.  We will miss her greatly.  We had hoped to spend more time with her here on the earth. We are “struck down – but not destroyed” (1 Corinthians 4.9), for we know that “even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil.” (Psalm 23.4) In fact (and foremost), “Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in him, though she die, yet shall she live, and everyone who lives and believes in him shall never die.” (John 11.25-26) The light shining from our Lord’s open tomb assures us of a grand and glorious reunion that is beyond our imagination.
Yet many in our world still live in the darkness that brings fear, shame, and isolation … many even unknowingly as they follow the deceptions of the prince of darkness.  But our God’s heart beats for them all – which is why “even as the Father sent Jesus, so he now sends us.” (John 20.21) God’s sending is a call to join Him in something beyond self, beyond a congregation, and beyond a denomination.  God is calling us to much more.  The Great Sending is His heartbeat for the world that He wants beating in and through you and me.
Thus, the third part of the good news (or, in addition to having guaranteed safety in this world and the promise that after death comes a glorious resurrection) is that our lives – every moment of them – have purpose.  We who have all of our needs provided and have nothing to fear, have been given the joyous opportunity to bring light to this dark world.  How do we do this?  Simple – through four actions: 1) providing daily bread; 2) seeking the lost; 3) gathering people to Jesus; and 4) suffering … all the while knowing that his “goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23.6) Yes, Jesus is Lord – and he reigns today, tomorrow, and forever.  Or, even more simply, “God Works – for us all” … no matter what season it may be.

God Works