Of all the attributes of God, the one we find the most distasteful and even terrifying is his justice. The idea that God is a consuming fire and a fearsome judge is more than a bit unsettling. We are sinners, and thus prefer the thought of God’s infinite mercy. But I would propose that God’s justice is one of the most misunderstood of his attributes, and I would argue further that if it were properly understood, we would not fear God’s justice, but rather find hope in it. v
The misunderstanding of God’s justice comes from the idea that God is bound by a code that even he cannot escape. This abstract law dictates that even though God loves us, desires to show mercy to us, and wants to see us saved, he is bound and required to punish sin by some necessity called justice. God then becomes conflicted within himself—which desires should he satisfy? His desire for vengeance, or his desire for mercy?
The traditional protestant answer is that God satisfies his desire for wrath and vengeance on his own Son, Jesus, freeing him from the necessity of justice and allowing him to show mercy to sinners. This view is also embraced by some Catholics.While there is a real sense in which Jesus did satisfy a deficit in our relationship to God and right order was restored, I believe this overly legal view of God’s justice is misguided. God is not bound by anything but his own nature. He is a just God and a merciful God at once. There is no conflict here, no inner war in God. God’s attributes are related and cannot contradict one another. Mercy and justice are not enemies.So how then, are we to understand God’s justice, especially in relation to his mercy?
The traditional definition of justice is rendering to each his rightful due. Thus, in a human legal framework, if you commit a specific crime, you are “owed” a specific punishment. For example: John steals. The punishment for stealing is flogging. Therefore, John deserves flogging. A hallmark of human justice is impartiality. “Justice is blind,” goes the saying, and the more impartial human justice is, the better. Much of this legal strictness is due to our limited understanding. We cannot see all the circumstances that led John to his crime. We don’t know if he was stealing for the thrill of it or stealing to feed his family. We simply see the crime and deem it worthy of punishment. We cannot play favorites.
But God is not bound by our human limitations. He sees all and knows all. And further, God is not impartial in the sense of a blind judge. He is not detached, but rather personally invested in each of us—because he created us and loves us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8) St. Paul says. He knows we are not so much as criminals in need of punishment, but rather wounded and sick souls in need of healing. He can no more judge impartially than a father can judge his children impartially. Love is not blind, love is bound.
Moreover, our merciful Father knows that sin runs deep. Our sins are rarely a product of clear-headed, rational, and free choices like we think they are. Our Father in heaven sees every circumstance, every wound that leads us to sin and takes it into account. He knows that the choices and failures of others influence us nearly as much as the choices we make for ourselves. “He remembers that we are dust,” in the words of the psalmist (Psalm 103:14). And so when we are eager to dole out punishment, he is eager to heal. We see a criminal in need of punishment. He sees a sin-sick heart—a heart that he loves beyond all reckoning—that needs to be healed. This is the justice of God, rendering to us a superabundance of grace where sin abounds.
We are all subject to the human condition known as Original Sin. We are born into a world shattered into a thousand pieces, and we are affected by this reality from the first moment of our existence. Our choices are complex, bound up to a large degree with those of others, all of us connected in a web of infinite complexity. God looks on this wounded world with compassion, not as a “blind” judge of strict and exacting justice, but as a Father looks on his wounded children–with a desire to heal and restore. His justice contributes to our benefit, not to our condemnation. And what does this justice look like? “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).It is God’s delight to save. It is his desire to heal. He “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” but desires “that they turn from their ways and live” (Ezek. 33:11). It is our sinful flesh that desires to destroy and condemn, not God.
Rather than fear God’s justice, we should hope in it, knowing that he takes into account every circumstance of our lives, every wound of our hearts. We should hope in the fact that he is more eager to save than to see our death. Amen.
Treasurer’s Report – Larry Beardsley
As the Treasurer I need to call your attention to a disturbing pattern I have seen in our giving over the summer. Our 2017 budget estimated that we needed $3,555 per week to meet our expenses.Through the first 37 weeks of 2017 (September 10th) we have averaged $3,251 per week in giving toward our budget.. This puts us almost four weeks of giving behind our projected income. But, for the last 19 weeks, our giving has averaged only $2,916 per week. Fortunately, so far this year, our expenses have been less than we expected, but “winter’s coming”, and if this trend continues we will have to make some hard decisions as we come closer to the end of the year.
As our fall schedules settle down, please look at your giving and consider making up any missed offerings; perhaps, a half a week at a time.
Church Year– Larry Beardsley
The Church Calendar has almost become routine. As in September, October has no specific holidays, we continue in The Time of the Church, The Season after Pentecost (17th through 20th Sundays). During this time we study readings that tell us about the nature of the Trinity, Epistle readings that reinforce the role of the church and us as members of Christ’s body. Our Gospels, taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew, tell of Jesus’ encounters with the scribes and Pharisees and parables in which Jesus teaches his disciples about the kingdom of heaven.
Altar paraments and vestments are green during Trinity except on specific Feast or Festival days. Sunday, October 30th will be our observance of Reformation Day, numerically the 24th Sunday after Pentecost.Three Festival days fall in October:
Wednesday, October 18th - St. Luke the Evangelist
October 23 – James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr;
October 28th – St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles.
On Sunday, October 29th we observe Reformation Day. On October 31st , 1517, Dr. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses (topics for academic and theological discussion) on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. On Reformation Sunday, red vestments and altar paraments are appropriate to celebrate a Festival Day.
Scrip Orders – Becky Beardsley
Are you ready to start thinking about Christmas yet? It will be here before we know it! A scrip order will be placed right after Thanksgiving, so start making that list! Order forms will be put in boxes around the middle of November.
CALENDAR NOTES /EVENTS FOR OCTOBER
OCTOBER 1 – LWML Sunday
OCTOBER 4- CHURCH COUNCIL MEETS 8:00 PM
OCTOBER 21 – LWML Fall Rally, Wolcottville
OCTOBER22ELDERS MEET – 11:00 AM
OCTOBER 29- POT LUCK LUNCHEON AT 11:00 A.M.
LCMS President Harrison will preach
500th Anniversary Reformation Service
October 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Kramer Chapel
The CTFW Kantorei and Schola Cantorum led by Kantor Kevin Hildebrand and the Chamber Choir from Concordia Lutheran High School will provide music. If you cannot attend, the service will be live streamed at www.ctsfw.edu/Daily-Chapel and on www.facebook.com/CTSFW
Board of Elders – Lance Hoffman, Chairman
It has been some time since the Elders have had a regular column in the monthly newsletter. It is our(my) intention to make this a regular occurrence. With that in mind, I thought it prudent to begin this month’s column with a review from the Zion Constitution – what is the Board of Elders supposed to actually be doing….?
From the Zion Constitution - The Elders, as assistants to the pastor, shall concern themselves with the general and spiritual welfare of the congregation and, under the pastor’s direction, shall be charged with the supervision of public worship, church discipline, and church publications. To that end they shall (1) consider complaints and grievances of members of the congregation who conform to the procedure specified in Matthew 18: 15-16; (2) admonish members who are neglecting the means of grace and who fail to share in the support of the congregation’s endeavors; (3) direct and supervise the visitation of newly received members and make every effort to bring them into the life and work of the congregation; (4) supervise the music for services and cooperate with the organist, the choir director, and choir members in maintaining high standards for the worship service; (5) supervise the work of the deacons and cooperate with them in maintaining proper decorum in church; (6) supervise the Alter Guild and encourage the members to achieve the objectives of their organization; (7) supervise and encourage the dissemination of Christian literature in the congregation; (8) look after the temporal welfare of the pastor(s), and all other church workers and make recommendations to the Church Council in regard to salaries and living accommodations.
In months to come we will take a deeper look at the 8 numerated tasks assigned to the Elders. If you have questions or concerns about the Board of Elders please do not hesitate to ask and inquire. We, the Board of Elders, are here to serve the members of Zion Lutheran Church.
Flower Calendar If you wish to recognize a birthday, anniversary or other significant day you may purchase and dedicate the Altar Flowers for a week for just $20. There is a Flower Calendar in the Fellowship Hall where you can sign up for flowers for any Sunday. There are forms there to note the details for flower dedications. Sign up for a date and your occasion will be noted in the bulletin for that Sunday. Just mark “Flowers” as a special offering on that Sunday to cover the cost.
Zion’s History – How Do We Read It? – Larry Beardsley
I am having just too much fun.In May as we were cleaning out a closet in the office, we found a pile of old ledgers. One of them caught my eye and as I looked it over, I figured out it was the ledger with minutes of church meetings from February 1910 through September 1927. I have written about the issues concerning the use of the German language in church and school; that narrative came from this ledger. I have also been able to trace the history of our organ from this book – a story I will put together in one account at later date. As a teaser, the first mention we have is Mr. Harry Krehl noting that a subscription of about $1,112 was available for the purchase of an organ – and more could be added.
Now, let me bore you a little. Figuring out our history isn’t just a matter of having someone read the book. Written German is a language that has changed drastically in the last 100 years and to translate our records, it takes a while to figure out just what style of handwriting is being used. Ms. Loren Marinko, daughter of one of our guest organists, and a student of German, worked on translating a number of passages from the book and gave me these insights.
If we go back to 1517 (there is that year again), printing was becoming the internet of the day. German text was set in an ornate type font called “Fraktur”, the font used in the Book of Concord.
Now, when text was handwritten, the Fraktur font was not copied directly, a handwriting style known as “Kurrent” was used. Kurrent is complex, because depending on where a letter falls in a word – or even what letter precedes of follows it – the letter can be formed differently. This was the writing style taught in German schools in the 1800’s and was the style taught to many of the founders and members of Zion in their native Germany.As we look at Zion’s minutes and records, until August 13th of 1922, the records are written in beautiful flowing cursive German, in the Kurrent style of handwriting. Although we do not know who the writer was (the secretary did not sign or initial records) it is most likely that the writer was a person who had been schooled in handwriting in Germany, not someone schooled in a German/English school.
In Germany, about the turn of the twentieth century, the use of Kurrent began to diminish and was replaced by a somewhat simpler cursive style known as “Sutterlin”. Ms. Marinko notes that Sutterlin was widely taught in German schools from the early 1900’s through 1941. But on October 1, 1922, the script in the minutes changes from Kurrent to Sutterlin. The secretary is no longer a person who was educated in the Old Country, but a person who was educated in a school that was teaching the more modern script – likely a product of Zion’s own school. This change occurs at a time when Zion was having internal issues that led to the resignation of Pastor Kretzmann (an account for another time) and it makes me wonder if the changes were related in any way?
As I said, I am having just way too much fun.
Field Worker Tanner Post and Madison - An Introduction
Hello to all of the members of Zion Lutheran, Corunna. My name is Tanner Post. I am a first year field education student from CTS, where I have started the MDiv program. Since we are new to the Fort Wayne area, my wife, Madison, and I are really excited to get to know everybody and to be involved in the congregation at Zion.
We both grew up on a farm and have an interest in agriculture, travel, and reading, to name a few things. I grew up near Lakefield, Minnesota. My dad and uncle have farmed together since my grandparents moved into town to retire. My older brother by two years is back home working for a hog operation called New Fashion Pork, and also on the farm. He and I together have 10 cows that we breed and raise calves from for showing. My younger sister by three years is attending college at SDSU in Brookings, SD and my mother is the librarian at the local elementary school. Madison is from Willow City, North Dakota. She also comes from a farm of about 300 beef cattle, which mostly grows hay. She is the second of four children.
We both attended college in Fargo, ND at NDSU where I earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and she completed two years before we got married. We were married this summer on June 10 and our first child is expected at the end of March, so we are looking forward to seeing our new baby. We are happy to be at Zion and have appreciated the warm welcome that we have received so far. God’s peace be with you all.
Tanner & Madison
Stewardship– Becky Beardsley
As we are nearing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this month’s LCMS Stewardship letter is about Martin Luther’s list of specific Bible verses to help us understand our duty as members of various jobs, society, and the Church. There are five passages and three regarding giving to local congregations. They are:
1 Corinthians 9:14: “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
Galatians 6:6-7: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what we sows.”
1 Timothy 5:17-18: “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ ”
In his lectures on Galatians, Luther addresses these and says we owe respect and support to our pastors. We are to share what we have with those who preach the gospel and instruct us in the faith. (LCMS Stewardship Newsletter, 10/2017
As we near the year’s end and prepare a budget for next year, please pray about what you are giving. Let us continue to be able to support our full-time ministry at Zion and the needs of our church. A copy of the proposed 2018 budget was put in mailboxes, please contact any member of the Finance Committee (Phyllis, Carolyn, Becky and Larry) with any questions and/or concerns no later than October 22. Thank you for all you do.
In Christ, Becky Beardsley
Zion Ladies Aid – Linda Hoffman
ion Ladies were busy in September! They enjoyed a day of fellowship selling pop, water, and chips at the ACD parade. It was decided at the September meeting that some of the profits will be used to assist hurricane victims at Grace Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida. Another decision that was made included celebrating LWML Sunday on October 1st. A door offering will be collected for the Mites program.
All LWML members are encouraged to support our sisters at Messiah Lutheran in Wolcottville at the Kendallville Zone Christian Life Conference on October 21 beginning at 8:30. We will plan to meet at Zion and car pool if anyone is interested!
Ladies of Zion are hosting a potluck lunch to celebrate the 500th Reformation. The congregation is invited to bring a dish to share in fellowship on October 29th after church. The Reformation is certainly something to commemorate!
Look ahead. before December gets booked and reserve December 10th at 5:30 p.m. for the Ladies Aid Christmas Party. More details will come, just save the date!
Rally day was Sept. 10th and balloons twisted and tangled as they were set aloft to land where they may in the hopes of sharing God’s Word with our community. Just like children, some balloons cooperated and went gracefully skyward to share joy, some balloons stayed stubbornly entangled with their friends and so were clumped together to do their work clumsily and hindered, but all brightened an already bright sky and brought smiles and speculation. The children of Zion certainly brighten our congregation and we are grateful to be with them! It is never too late to participate in our Sunday school lessons.