May Newsletter 2023

To God be the Glory

“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept silent for long ages but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles—to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ—to him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 16:25–27, CSB).

As I come to the end of my four-year ministry among you, I find myself thinking about the powerful words that conclude Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. This beautiful doxology not only serves as a fitting conclusion to Paul’s letter but also captures the essence of what we have experienced together as a Church during our time together.

Paul describes how God strengthens us through the gospel.  The Gospel is about Jesus. The gospel is a proclamation of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of your sins. Through the good news, God establishes and nourishes the church. When you are discouraged, you need to hear again this wonderful news. You can find strength in knowing that the ultimate victory comes through the work of Christ and not your own work. You can find strength in knowing that your hope is based on his perfect record, not your performance. I am grateful to have been entrusted with the responsibility of sharing this good news with you. Over these years, we have witnessed God’s power at work among us. Through the preaching of the gospel, we have seen God’s power to forgive and to transform our lives by His grace. This proclamation of Jesus is at the heart of our faith.

Paul also highlights that the Gospel message is found in the Bible. The Gospel fulfills what the prophets predicted. It tells a glorious story and Jesus is the hero. As we’ve delved into the Scriptures, we have discovered the mystery of God’s plan, which was once hidden but has now been revealed. So, dear friends, do not “despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it” (SC I.6). Why? Because it is the very power of God intended for your salvation (Ro 1:16-17).

This gospel message is the foundation on which our church stands, but it is also the wellspring of hope for a lost and broken world. We do not serve a tribal Saviour, but the Lord of the nations, who intends to have a people who worship the Messiah from all nations. It is our responsibility to carry the message of God’s love in Christ to the lost. Just as Paul was called to make the gospel known, we too have been called to take up the responsibility of sharing God’s love with our neighbors, our community, and beyond. We have seen the impact of the gospel in our own lives, and we have the privilege of spreading the good news of Christ to the people around us.

J. S. Bach ended many of his manuscripts with the abbreviation SDG (for Soli Deo Gloria, which is Latin for “to God alone be glory”). Not a bad symbol to impress upon all our work, too. Not a bad way to end my time with you. I confess with Luther, “All glory be to God alone, forever more the highest one, who did our sinful race befriend and grace and peace to us extend. Among us may his gracious will all hearts with deep thanksgiving fill” (LSB 948:1). This is why we do not clap in church and why musicians are in the back of the church.  It is also why pastors wear robes that blend in with the altar.  The focus is not to be on us but on God and what He is doing. It is not about us but rather about Christ. God gets the credit. God is the one who “has called [you] by the Gospel, enlightened [you] with His gifts, sanctified and kept [you] in the true faith. In the Christian Church [God] daily and richly forgives all [your] sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise up [you] and all the dead and will give eternal life to [you] and to all believers in Christ” (SC III.6). So, give God praise. Praise God for the Gospel! Praise him for the victory you have through your baptism into Christ. Praise him for free access to his Word. And if you have received any benefit from my ministry among you, give all praise to God, because he deserves all the credit.

As we say our farewells, let us remember that our faith is not built upon the wisdom of men, but upon the power of God found in the gospel of Christ. Let us continue to rely on God’s Word to establish and strengthen us, to proclaim the gospel with boldness, and to bear witness to the love of Christ in our world. I pray that God will continue to bless and guide you all.

To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

With love and gratitude,

         Rev. Matthew Fenn

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