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O love, how deep, how broad, how high,

Beyond all thought and fantasy, That God, the Son of God, should take

Our mortal form for mortals’ sake!

God is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4) and “abounding in merciful love” (Ex 34:6). The enormity of God’s mercy drove Saint Paul to his knees, fervently praying that others, too, might “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18–19). Such love and mercy stirred the souls of God’s Old Testament people as well, who exulted: “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him. . . . The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 103:11, 17).

At the same time, the Bible teaches that all humanity will face a final judgment before God, and that apart from Jesus Christ there is no escape from the divine wrath that is coming upon the world because of human sin and wickedness. It is often noted that contemporary Western culture rejects this idea that God punishes. In a cultural setting like this, clearly the church must proclaim—and the church must clearly proclaim—the truth about God’s holiness and judgment. Without the preaching of the law, there is no real awareness of the need for and nature of the gospel.

But there is another, perhaps less obvious, challenge. Yes, the world around us casually acknowledges that God is loving and merciful, at least to the extent that God is acknowledged at all. However, we must not assume, regarding the gospel, that it is therefore obvious and easily known. The love of God in Jesus Christ is no generic, ordinary kind of love. The mercy of God for sinners in Jesus Christ is no everybody-knows-that kind of mercy.

This year our Lenten Services, beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17th , at 6:30 will set to trace the enormous dimensions God’s merciful love for sinners in Christ. We will endeavor to more fully comprehend and rejoice in “the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” A second goal is that hearers would come to associate each of the many dimensions of God’s great love and mercy elaborated in this series with the suffering and death of Christ, enriching their Lenten meditation and their ongoing understanding of the cross. A third goal is that God’s enormous love for the hearers would move them to live in love and mercy toward others.

Now would be a great time to invite others to join us for our midweek through Easter services. We will continue to care for people coming to our services by:

-Asking questions and encouraging hand sanitation upon arrival.

-Encouraging the wearing of masks in the sanctuary.

-Being distanced in our entrance, communion, departure, and seating practices.

-Having all the air in the sanctuary cleansed by UV light.

-Not having food or drink available during or after the services.

God’s LOVE in Christ is the glorious message of the Gospel. We hope to see you and those you might invite at our midweek services.

Pastor Oster

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