What is the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod?
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is one of two "main" Lutheran Church bodies in the US. The other is the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). What characterizes the LCMS is our firm conviction that the Holy Scriptures are truly and completely God's Word. We also recognize that God has given us His Word in a most beautiful and mysterious fashion: being written through humans.
Holy Scripture is the sole norm and authority for all of faith and life. The Lutheran Confessions ("The Book of Concord") summarize how we interpret the Scriptures. Lutheran theology, in this pastor's humble opinion, is the most faithfully biblical theology available. And also in humility, we always remain in open and healthy dialogue with many other Christian denominations. In truth, we know that Christ's Church exists amongst many denominations and with amazing variety, beauty and culture. Nevertheless, one must judge a local church's teaching according to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church's teaching.
So who cares about Church? I'll believe in Jesus on my own time, in my own prayer and Bible reading, or when I'm out in nature.
Well? God, from the beginning, has encouraged and commanded His people to gather together in corporate worship, because in mysterious fashion, it is exactly in that place where God is continually forming and shaping His people into the image of His Son - the Body of Christ on earth. Sometimes it may seem rote or unexciting to simply "attend church." But a believer - thinking, growing and acting by faith - knows that God has placed His blessings into the life of the Church. One may not always "feel" the joy and wonder of God's abiding presence every single Sunday. But as we all grow in faith, we learn that we have access to God's throne always, and that reality begins in corporate worship as we gather around God's Word and Sacraments. The more you know this, the more you will know the joy of His presence in your life every day.
How does this happen?
God's Word and Sacraments stand at the center of our worship and life together. God's Word is the center of everything we do as believers. The Sacraments are God's Word in tangible form. Through the waters of baptism we are united to Christ and welcomed into His Kingdom. Through the holy meal of Communion, God's People share a foretaste of the Glorious Feast to come, and we are strengthened with the life of God Himself: through Christ's Body and Blood.
What's it all about?
God comes to us! God has always pursued His people - from the fall of humanity until now! Christ Jesus came for us! He became Man for us! He lived, suffered and died, rose and ascended for us! And He continues His mission of revealing God's unconditional love for all. As God comes to us through His Word and Sacrament His Spirit continues the work of cultivating God's People into the image of Christ. In Him, we are to be the great stewards and caretakers of God's everlasting Kingdom to come - the New Heavens & New Earth.
God is for you! He has proven His unconditional love for you at the cross and by His resurrection. God's plan for this creation is to restore all things! One day soon Christ will return. Eternity will invade time and heaven will come to earth. Come to Christ and let Him speak His promises over you. He will never leave you. He will never let you down. You belong to Him. Amen.