October Newsletter

“All is ready. The Lord is the Host of the Feast. All who believe in the forgiving presence of Jesus may come to the table.”

What does it mean to be a welcoming church? At both the Western Iowa Synod Assembly and the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, some were accused of excluding people of a homosexual orientation, because they believe in the traditional and Biblical understanding of marriage. I don’t believe this accusation. I don’t believe that we are excluding anybody. I believe we welcome anyone and everyone to our church. Indeed, as I say before every Communion Service, “all who believe in the forgiving presence of Jesus are welcome at the table”. All who are seeking forgiveness are welcome in our church.

But who will seek forgiveness? Only those who believe and confess that they are sinners. As we say every Sunday, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves”. We welcome all sinners, but if you fool yourself into thinking you are not a sinner, then you may not want to come to our church.

I believe homosexual behavior is sinful. Indeed, if I believe in the Bible, I have to believe this. There is no other conclusion possible. The Bible clearly states that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful. The Bible also clearly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This is the truth, and I will continue to proclaim this truth as long as I am a pastor.

Does this mean I am excluding people from my church? Does this mean that we are not a welcoming church? No, it does not! There is a notion that if you don’t accept what people are doing, you don’t accept them. In other words, to love someone, you have to love their behavior. This is what both the assemblies were saying, when they accused some of excluding people.

But they are wrong. We are called to proclaim the truth. Not only is this the right thing to do, it is the loving thing to do. The truth is; there are some things God does not want us to do. There are some things that are sinful. If we truly love our neighbors, we will always be truthful with them. We will always proclaim the truth to them.

Does that mean we exclude them? On the contrary, it means we welcome them into our church, where they can confess their sin and receive the forgiveness for all their sins. For “all who believe in the forgiving presence of Jesus” are welcome at our church.

Your friend in Christ,

Pastor Ron