On Sunday, April 27, 2014, St. Trinitatisgemeinde hosted the second “Letter of Christ” Seminar with the theme “God is the author.” The second seminar again focused on the theme verse of 2 Corinthians 3:3: “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (ESV). The first seminar was held in February, and focused on the overall theme and goals for the congregation as they work to lease the State Church property Lukaskirche. The congregation hopes to help low-income immigrants and native Germans who live in Volkmarsdorf, where Lukaskirche is located. Through the work of head pastor Rev. Markus Fischer, Missionary to the Migrants Rev. Hugo Gevers and Mission Vicar Thomas Beneke of The Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherische Kirche (SELK), and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Missionary Rev. Dr. Christopher S. Ahlman, the congregation hopes to come together to reach out to greater Leipzig, as well.
The second seminar was held at the church’s current property in Eutritzch. Following the 9:30 AM Divine Service, members and guests returned to the sanctuary for a brief presentation from Rev. Fischer concerning God as the author of the letter of Christ. Afterward, they split into two groups and met inside the Gemeindehaus (the congregational education/fellowship space in a building on the property). The Iranian immigrants met in a group with Rev. Gevers for a translation and discussion of the theme for the day, as well as what they see as the challenges and benefits of the Lukaskriche project, all under the theme of God as the author. The German members, as well as some Americans and South Africans, met in another room to discuss the same ideas. Rev. Gevers says:
Each group was assigned the task to observe how the Apostle Paul is able to remain focused in adversity. (The example of the Apostle’s shipwreck in Acts 27:13-26 was used as an illustration to show how the Apostle had to endure adversity, in spite of being on the God given task of traveling to Rome. We then saw how the Apostle is able to remain focused). In a second step the groups were assigned to talk about adversities that we sometimes have in church. The groups were quick to respond.
Rev. Markus Fischer adds:
The second group realized at first the situation St. Paul was in when he wrote: “you are a letter of Christ.” Paul had a lot of adversaries who denied his apostleship. His opponents sent a bunch of reference letters – in order to emphasize their importance. Paul didn’t need any credentials. He just proclaimed the Word of God. The Word of God is sufficient. It creates faith. We don’t need any institutions to validate the Word of God. You, the Christians in Corinth are the letter, which is written by Christ himself. The proclamation of the word of God made you Christians. You, the Christians are a reference letter from Christ; God is the author.
The group discussed similar situations in the Bible and church history, which may encourage us today.
The rich man and Lazarus were mentioned (St. Luke 16:19ff.). The rich man was sentenced to hell. He asked Abraham to send someone to warn his five brothers, that they would not face the same destiny. He was given the answer: let them hear Moses and the Prophets, the Word of God. The rich man asked for a special favor: someone from the dead should warn his five brothers. Outside of the Word of God we have no proof that there will be the Last Judgement, but because the Word of God speaks of it, we know there will be one.
The other example given: Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1521. He was asked to recant his teachings. He was in a great danger and fear of death. Luther could not be secure that there will be powerful help in this situation. His only mean was the word of God. It would be more easy and safe to recant. But the word of God only mad Luther confident. No institution of state and church could bring him to the recall. “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.
The Scriptures, the Word of God, the Holy Bible alone will give us comfort and certainty – both in church and personal life.
After their individual discussions, the two groups came together to share their thoughts. The people felt encouraged by the idea that although as a small congregation the task sometimes seems too big, God as the author makes sure that His Word is proclaimed to all.
When the groups came back together, it was noted by Rev. Gevers that both of “the groups experience a challenge in their road with God when fellowship is destroyed in the church. We are able to confront this challenge by focusing on what God wants from us and not on private agendas. These thoughts were then placed on the prayer requests:
- Help us to focus on God
- Help us to renew and refresh fellowship.”
The group prayed for these requests together, and then enjoyed some baked goods, coffee and tea made by two of the members. The attendance included some guests and friends as well as members. The third seminar will take place on Sunday, May 25th with guest Rev. Horst Neumann, the former German Lutheran Hour speaker.
- Please pray for the third seminar, which will take place this coming Sunday, May 25, 2014.
- Consider supporting Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman and his family in Leipzig.
- To support the Lukaskirche Project with a gift toward renovation of the building or the organ…