Dear FAMILY of St. Paul’s:
Back in the 1990s, church leaders were strongly cautioned to avoid the term, “family” when referring to their churches or congregations. Evangelism coordinators especially suggested that with this term, people would associate the negative connotations and terrible traits of dysfunctional families with the church with the end result that they would be turned off and stay away from the church altogether.
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is a family! Yes, it is a family that has its negative aspects. Like all other families, it is a family of sinners. Everyone in this church family, including their pastor, is a sinful human being who fails miserably every single day not only to measure up perfectly to the Lord’s will and Word, but also do not love their Savior God perfectly with their whole heart and mind or love their neighbor as their own selves. And, sometimes, this sinfulness is visibly evident in our attitudes and actions with each other.
Yet, St. Paul’s is also at the very same time a family of saints too! Everyone in this church family, including their pastor, is a saint whose sins have been completely paid for by Jesus. Every one in this family has been declared righteous by the Heavenly Father based on Jesus’ person and work for us. Every one in this church family knows that they have been given the undeserved, unearned, unconditional forgiveness of all of their sins and, as a consequence, are now heirs of a place in paradise. Furthermore, every member of this church family is now seriously motivated, enabled and empowered to live their faith according to the Word of the Lord and want to follow his holy will in service to Him and their fellow man.
The term, “family,” may have many negative connotations but at the same time it still conveys the positive idea of all of us being redeemed children in one big family of our Heavenly Father, grateful for our redemption and justification, motivated to serve and really looking forward to a permanent home with heaven as our address.
Let us all thank the Lord for every member of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. We are not just a church or a congregation, we are a family in Christ!
“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” (Hebrews 2: 11)