I came to Norman, OK in 2014 to serve as the first full-time pastor at a start-up congregation, Grace Lutheran Church. It is my desire and prayer that the Biblical concept after which my congregation chose to name itself, “Grace,” predominates in my ministry to its members and the people of our community.
American Lutheran church father C.F.W. Walther noted that we are not correctly handling the Word of God “when the person teaching it does not allow the Gospel to have a general predominance in his teaching.” The Christian preacher or teacher needs to proclaim God’s Law faithfully, too. But, “without telling them how to attain faith in Christ, your hearers will be spiritually starved to death if you do not allow the Gospel to predominate in your preaching. They will be spiritually underfed because the bread of life is not the Law, but the Gospel.”
In other words, it is the Gospel, the Good News, that feeds faith and makes it grow. At the heart of the Gospel is grace: God is love (1 John 4:16), and he continues to love the sinner, the unworthy, the undeserving. From God’s grace flow the free forgiveness of our sins and everything he has done to make our forgiveness possible in Jesus’ life and work. From grace and forgiveness flows a long list of blessings and promises that deepen our trust in God more and more. This is the food our souls need to live. This is what we find when we find Jesus Christ, or rather, he finds us and makes our hearts his own.
I do not intend these posts to be full Gospel meals. That is found in the banquet of God’s grace we find on Sunday mornings gathered with other believers for preaching and communion. These are bits of bread, a little something to nourish our faith in the spaces between Sundays. As I confess in the very first post, I have personally discovered how desperately I need this food.
John Vieths, Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church of Norman, OK