You know them, warts and all. Every Sunday you sit shoulder to shoulder with them — well, at least up until a year ago — and you talk with them. You know he has family problems while she maybe drinks a bit too much. He said horrible things about your aunt a decade ago. She brought you food for a week after you came home from the hospital.
You also know Him, the spotless Lamb. Every Sunday you hear from Him, God’s Son. You lay upon Him your problems as you confess your sins and pray about your needs. You confess Him and His work with the whole church. You confess that this Jesus, seated at the Father’s right hand, reigns in all eternity for His Bride, the church, to forgive her sins and present her as a spotless Bride.
We’re talking about your church family, the people of God. In this family, God has united you with both those you see weekly and those beyond your congregation, to Christians of every tribe, race and time, and He has brought you into the one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic church. You gather to receive from Jesus what only He can give: Himself in Word and Sacrament. In that giving, Jesus unites you into His one church.
This issue of LW discusses Jesus’ Bride, the church. Jason Lane explains the doctrine of the church as the gathering of those who hear and follow the Shepherd’s voice. Joel Elowsky achieves the impossible: He writes a history of the Christian church in one short article. John Hill offers advice for congregations in which pastor and people struggle to get along. Dorothy Krans shows how The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) extends its mission from the congregation into the broader world. And John Sias explains the unique structure of the LCMS and her history. Christ makes sinners — even you — into His beautiful, spotless Bride. She is perfect, because she is His, and He is hers.
United in Christ,
Roy S. Askins
Managing Editor, The Lutheran Witness