the PRAYER. . .
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
the READING. . .
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
the DEVOTION. . .
Each year, around this time, we read the same six verses. John 8:31-36. We’ve been doing it for generations! It’s the gospel reading for Reformation Day, when we commemorate the reshaping of the church in northern Europe, back in the 1500s. Well, not so much of the renewing itself, as the message that accomplished it. And you’d think, after all that time, we’d know better.
But year after year, when the passage is read, one word keeps leaping out! Challenging us! Daring us! That one little word ‘IF’! IF we continue in his word, then we are his disciples! But if we don’t … well … But funny thing, in the gospel – and in the Reformation – there are no IFs! No unlesses! No untils! Only proclamations! Only promises!
Truth is, whether we continue or don’t continue, we’re still disciples! Just like Judas who betrayed … and Peter who denied … and Thomas who doubted … We’re all disciples – STILL disciples – not because of what we do or don’t do, but because of Jesus! Because of Jesus’ call! Because of Jesus’ claim! Contrary to popular opinion, none of us chose to become a disciple; Jesus made us one! And Jesus keeps making us one! No buts! No ands! And certainly, no ifs!
Bob Barndt, pastor