Thursday, March 12, 2020

A Pastoral Concern: The Church Militant and Fight Songs

The concern over the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a constant topic.  Perhaps that has made it overwhelming for you.  It is understandable.  It seems we cannot go anywhere where people are not talking about it, taking steps to prevent its spread, or escalating into bunker mentality. 

If we can find a blessing in it, it is that a virus has exposed the reality of life to many people who lived in blissful ignorance for too long.  Here is the reality: Everyone is going to die and we don't know when that will be.  No one has been guaranteed a set number of years.  We are always one heart beat away from death--or in this case, one handshake or one dirty door handle.  Death is the enemy, and we don't know where he will strike.

For those in the Church Militant, we have always known our enemy.  Death is the enemy, and sin is the weapon by which it inflicts its mortal blow.  Sin has corrupted our world, producing with it viruses, sickness, fear, and death.  The world only recognizes viruses, sickness, fear, and death.  The prayers of many people is for solutions to the virus and sickness so that they don't have to deal with fear and death.  But we know that even healthy people can go to hell.  The coronavirus does not send anyone to hell.  Sin does.

But that is why we flee to our Savior again and again.  We know that Jesus is our solution to sin--and therefore delivers us from death and damnation.  He is the ever-living victor over death.  He is the one who washes away our sin through Holy Baptism.  He keeps us pure by his words of admonition, encouragement, and peace.  The Church Militant rallies to the standard: Jesus.  Only in Jesus, who comes to us in word and sacraments, are we saved from sin and death. Only in Jesus will we endure viruses and sickness without fear. 

As the Church Militant, we also have our fight songs.  In addition to hearing God's promises and offering up our prayers, we sing our fight songs in the presence of our enemies to mock them.  The hymnal is full of them.  If you find yourself being overwhelmed by all the talk of COVID-19, then it is time to raise up the fight songs, and even better if you can join in with fellow Christians who are your comrades in arms in the Church Militant. 

Here are just a few stanzas of fight songs from our hymnal:

Why should cross and trial grieve me?
   Christ is near With his cheer;
      Never will he leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
   That God's Son, For me won
      When his life was given?
          (CW 428:1; Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me, by Paul Gerhardt)

What God ordains is always good;
   This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
   I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, For with his arm
   He will embrace and shield me;
      So to my God I yield me.
          (CW 429:5; What God Ordains Is Always Good, by Samuel Rodigast)

Through Jesus' blood and merit I am at peace with God;
   What, then, can daunt my spirit, However dark my road?
My courage shall not fail me, For God is on my side;
   Though hell itself assail me, Its rage I may deride.
          (CW 445:1; Though Jesus' Blood and Merit; by Simon Dach)

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!
   Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I've traveled, All your might has come unraveled,
   And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!

Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!
   When I die, I leave all sadness To inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes Faith's assurance brightly flashes;
   Baptism has the strength divine To make life immortal mine.
          (CWS 737:3,4;  God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It, by Erdmann Neumeister)

If you are feeling well, join us at 10:00 AM on Sundays and rally around the standard--Jesus Christ.  Jesus will serve us with words of promise and with the heavenly feast.  And God's people will join in our fight songs for mutual encouragement.  If you are ill, contact your pastor to see how he can serve you, especially if your situation becomes dire.

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