Is there a more comforting promise? God offers many promises in his Word, but this promise at the end of Matthew may be the most profound. It is certainly needed.
The disciples on the mount of Ascension needed this. Jesus had just completed the instructions concerning his Grace Commission, his command to take grace to people throughout the world through Word and Sacrament. Now, he was going to leave. As the disciples watched, Jesus would disappear from before their very eyes. Against all appearances, he offers this promise, “I am with you always.”
This promise is the ideal bookend to his initial assertion, “All authority has been given to me.” Not only was Jesus in charge and in control of all things, he promised to be with his disciples wherever they would go.
Jesus left them physically, visually, but not in reality. We have the same experience. We have never seen Jesus with our own eyes. But he gives us this same promise, “I am with you always.”
We need this promise. Jesus is gone, but not really. He is gone…but is present with us more than ever. He is with us even more powerfully than if he could be seen with our eyes. We live in the presence of our ascended, ever-present, all-powerful Lord. He is in control, in charge, working everything out for our good – wherever we are, wherever we go. There is no place we can go where Christ will not also be. There is no situation so complex or desperate or helpless that Christ can’t work it out into something that benefits us.
The fact that this is not just an isolated throwaway Scripture gives us added assurance. The promise is embedded in the very name of our Savior, when he was called Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” Throughout the pages of Scripture, God’s people are promised God’s presence. At the very end of the Bible, when the book of Revelation describes what heaven will be like, this is what the voice from heaven says: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
His presence encourages us to carry out his mission of mercy, his commission of grace. Knowing that he is always with us gives us courage to reach out and confidence to speak…always.
Grateful for grace,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand
1) Trinity is planning to return to in-person worship on Sunday, May 31st & Monday, June 1st. Service times will be as follows:
- Sunday, 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
- Monday, 6:30 p.m.
A detailed letter concerning this has been posted on Trinity’s website (www.trinityminocqua.org), Facebook page, and via email to all the email addresses we have in the church office. It contains information about registering for worship services (to keep the number under 50) as well as the precautions we’re taking to ensure safety.
2) If you’re interested, these are the “reservation” totals as of noon on Thursday (May 21), a full 10 days before we resume worship: Sun, 9 a.m. (28), Sun. 10:30 a.m. (7), Mon. 6:30 p.m. (8). There is an extra service on Sunday, May 31st, for the confirmation students and their families; we’re expecting mid-40s for attendance.
3) I’ve received several communications (phone, email) from fellow saints who are declining to attend at this time due to “at risk” issues. These are excellent decisions for those individuals and we will continue to make online worship available. May the Lord enable us to continue to extend grace to one another as we seek his saving grace through worship, whether at home or in person.
4) A word about greeters and ushers and communion assistants for worship: we are suspending these schedules at this time. A few days before the coming week’s worship, we’ll reach out to individuals who have registered to worship to ask for help with ushering. At this time, only the pastor will be distributing Holy Communion.
5) Remember April’s 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge? Remember my wish for a Blessings Jar in which we could collectively place slips of paper enumerating the many blessings for which we are thankful? Soon, we’ll be returning for in-person worship. There is a Blessings Jar in the Welcome Center, so bring in those slips of paper when you are able!
6) There will be no “Monday’s Encouragement” posting on Memorial Day.