The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Come out of darkness and into the light

Deer hunting season is long over. The bucks were uncooperative. I didn't have a doe permit, so I experienced having a doe and her fawn come so close that I could hear them chewing. It was after sundown and almost too dark to see them. But occasionally the doe raised her head high to listen. She would look right toward me and then go back to eating, unaware of my presence.

On another morning, I sat in the middle of a large grove of trees near a huge maple that had been uprooted and laid flat by the wind. It was an extremely windy morning. With wind roaring through the treetops, my almost quiet, protected refuge proved to be a special place for meditation as well as observation.

I thought about how much our lives are like that of this tree. It had grown into a magnificent example of God's intended purpose. About 55 feet tall with giant, overhanging branches, the tree seemed to have been in good health and fulfilling its purpose. But suddenly its life was over. Its crowning branches were smashed, splintered and no longer beautiful. Its roots were broken, exposed and unable to draw sustenance from the root system still in the ground. It had clung fast to the ground and stood tall for many years, but now its life was over.

As hard as we cling to life, it sometimes seems difficult for us to be aware of our purpose and then to be committed to fulfilling it. Like the doe we are often unaware of God's presence. We sometimes want to bypass God's intended purpose.

The Incarnate Word makes things clear if we come out of the darkness into the presence of him who is the Light of the World.

Paul wrote: "In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will" (Ephesians 1:11).

Our purpose is to live life in union with Christ, following his example of love and selfless serving. He is the source of our life-and its purpose. When we abide in him, we bear much fruit. He determines the span of our life.

No matter how hard we cling to life, one day his wind will blow and we will be laid flat. Life as we know it here will be over. Unlike the tree, we will be resurrected to continue in union with him for all eternity.

This week's front page features:

Thinking ethically: We need guidelines as we support those facing infertility.

Tough decisions: Hope, pain and moving on after pregnancy attempts.

To have a baby: The path to parenthood can be a roller coaster ride.

Holy smoke: Our prayers rise like incense before God.

Also: Stem cells: A moral question?

Also: Presiding bishop: The genetics challenge.

Also: Born to fly.

Read these articles on our front page ...

Discuss worship:

Robert A. Rimbo

Robert A. Rimbo (right) writes the "Worship whys" column for The Lutheran. He's pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City, and former bishop of the Southeast Michigan Synod.

Join him today through Jan. 22 to discuss the "whys" of worship.

This month's column examines the use of incense, but previous columns have addressed Advent remembering, table grace, spiritual "stuff," praying and more praying, and more. Consider reading previous columns before joining in.

Join the conversation ...

This week on our blog:

Amber Leberman

Amber Leberman (right) writes congregations on the Web.

Check out our blog ...

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