The following message was delivered by Deaconess Cathy Benzler (Cherokee) as the opening devotion at Lutheran Indian Ministries annual staff meeting this past January 2015: I am so excited that this time has finally come. I have been waiting all year long for this, not just to get away, but to see all of YOU! As time got closer, the more the excitement grew, knowing that soon we would come together once again to share with one another.
Some of us might see one another during the year at other venues, or we may talk to each other during the year, whether it’s work related or we are touching base for prayers, but the prospect of coming together as a group just brings me an unspeakable joy in seeing you all again.
"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith" (Romans 1:8-12).
Paul opens many of his letters with similar greetings such as this! He is genuinely excited as he anticipates coming to these churches and sharing with them and mutually receiving from them as well.
I believe that’s why I've looked forward to this time. It’s not because we all think and act exactly alike, but we share the most important thing in our life, and that’s Christ! We’re excited for one another because Christ is glorified and works through all of our lives and the ministries He has called us to serve in.
One of the things that ties us together and unites us is our baptism. Through our baptism, we are joined with Christ in His death and resurrection by water and His Word. We become children of the living God and brothers and sisters in Christ to one another.
When we think on our baptism, there is always that joy we get knowing we are saved and heirs with Christ!
Lutherans are so good at looking back at their baptism. The church I grew up in didn’t emphasize baptism as a “means of God’s grace” – rather it was more something you did when you were old enough to show you wanted to follow Jesus and that was it. But we know it is more than just that.
"He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7).
That’s good news and something to remember all our days!
"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27).
Along with making us heirs of Christ, God gives spiritual gifts accordingly to share with one another. Some of us are great at encouraging; some are gifted in giving counsel, some at sharing the Word with clarity, some at bringing joy into the room. Those are just a few; there are many more.
When you gather all the various God-given gifts together in the same room, there is no telling what can happen! I do know one thing: This brings me overwhelming joy and that is why I am so happy and excited in seeing all of you.
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