Newspaper Article – December 23, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

Not for all people only

“Fear not!”, the angel said to the shepherds, “For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

The joy at the birth of the Saviour is to be for all people. For the Son of God has come for the salvation of all. He has come to restore all God’s lost and beloved children to the life we were meant to have with God in His glory, and from which we have fallen with our disobedience and disregard for God.

For this the eternal Son of God Himself has come to us. The Saviour is Christ the Lord; in other words: the Christ, that is: the anointed Saviour God had promised and now has sent, He is the Lord, the eternal Son of God who is God Himself from eternity. For only He could bring to completion for us what is God’s will for us, and win us sinners again for His Kingdom and His eternal life.

Only He could live the life for us that we owe it to God to live. And He has come to do that, to live a life of full and complete trust in God, and love, and submission to His will, and to do it for us, so that all that we owe to God has, in fact, been given to Him, and there is nothing lacking.

And only the death of the Holy One of God could make up for the evil and injustice that our sin is against God, our disobedience toward His Word and will, and our disregard for His love. And He has come to die for us, and pay the price and penalty for our evil and ungodliness, so that all is accounted for, and nothing prohibits us from the Kingdom of God, and His heavenly life.

He has come for the salvation of all people. And as such, the joy of His coming is for all people. By virtue of His work in the world, all sinners are entitled and invited to belong to Him and be part of His Church and His royal and priestly people.

For He who came into the world, He is still in the world. Through His living Word of love He speaks His promise to us sinners of full and complete forgiveness for sins, of His Kingdom and His heavenly life. And He calls us into a life in His love, in the Word and worship of His salvation. He calls us into a life in which He will be with us, always, and assure us of His love, and give Himself to us, with all that He is, and with all that is His, and live in us Himself, with His love and His life.

The joy of His coming is not for all people only, for a few days a year; rather, the joy of His coming is for all of us through all of our life, and beyond. For His promise is that nothing can separate us from the life we have in Him, not even death. He is with us to see us through the sufferings and sorrows of this life, and through death, so as to secure us for His Kingdom and His heavenly life. And the heavenly life He has won for us all, and promises and offers to us all, is eternal life, that is: it is life in its fullness, without end and without restrictions or limitations. And it is given to us, freely and for nothing, with His promise, out of His goodness and mercy, to those who will hear His promise, and take it to heart.

Our Christmas celebrations do indeed remind us of this great joy. But the joy should not be limited to our Christmas celebrations. For it is joy for all of life; it is the joy of eternal life.

Merry Christmas.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – November 11, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

Just a few challenges

There is something sad about autumn. Even if autumn is also hunting season, it does dampen the mood of most of us, the days becoming shorter, and the darkness, and cold and wet weather. Autumn is, in many ways, the depression of nature. At the very least, it is a melancholy season, a reminder that all things must die; not only because of hunting season, but also because life itself seems to die around us, leaves falling and leaving trees to stand thin and bare, like skeletons of what was once blooming and full of life.

And after autumn comes winter. Perhaps that is the worst thing about it. Or perhaps not.

It is not really that I hate winter. And it is not really that winter is all death. Winter has its own enjoyable atmosphere, and its own enjoyable events.

It is just that life is a bit more difficult in winter, because of the dark and the cold and the snow. There is no reason why we cannot enjoy life in winter. It just takes a little more effort to embrace life. We need to dress warm to go anywhere, and wipe off our feet, and shovel the snow. But that does not mean that we are not alive over winter. Or that all there is to life in winter is longing for spring.

Christians long for the Kingdom of God, and His eternal life. In His Kingdom there shall be no more suffering and no more sorrow, and even death shall be no more, rather, all things shall be filled with His goodness and His glory, and God Himself shall be all in all. And those who belong to Him shall be with Him forever and share His fullness of life with Him.

Holy Scripture also presents an interesting perspective, though, on the life of a Christian right here and now, with its claim that that for which we long has come to us already.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,” writes the Apostle (Col 3:1-4), “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

Christians have already in Baptism died away from this world of suffering and sorrow, and been raised with Christ (the Apostle pointed that out in the previous chapter). And the only reason our life here and now in so many ways seem alike to a life of suffering and sorrow is that our life is “hidden with Christ in God”. Our reality is that we are already seated in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) where there is neither suffering nor sorrow, and no evil can reach us. We already live with God, in the fullness of His goodness. It is just that we do not see it. And that is why our life with Him involves some challenges.

The sufferings and sorrows that fall upon Christians in this life are not evil; they are in His hands, who loved us and took the fullness of sufferings and sorrows upon Himself for our salvation. And in ways we do not understand, they are all expressions of His love for us, and they serve for our good.

Not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, the Apostle writes elsewhere (Romans 8:38-39); in other words, the glory that awaits us after this life is a continuation of the life Christians already own because of His mercy, and have already now begun to know in our life with Him, in His Word and worship. When He comes, we shall see it face to face and know it fully. But it is ours already. All things good have been given to us already, in our life of faith. And our salvation is certain and secure. It is just that until He comes, we will not be able to enjoy our heavenly life fully and completely because of the devil and the world and our sinful flesh. And it does take some effort to enjoy this our heavenly life at all; a bit like it takes some effort to keep up life during the winter.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – October 1, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard and The Republican Rustler

Love from before our beginning

Strangely enough, some things will shock us even when they do not surprise us at all.

    The recent release of videos revealing the callousness and cruelty of abortion providers towards little children is a good example of this. There was nothing really surprising about what the videos showed; I think it is safe to assume that we all knew already, more or less, what an abortion is, and what is done to a little child in the process. Nevertheless, it has sent shock waves through society to have the callousness and cruelty so clearly exposed.

    Not much is likely to change, though, from the shock of that which was never a surprise. For Christians, of course, and for those whose natural sense of right and wrong command some respect for human life, the videos could do little more than to affirm previous positions; whereas for those who consider the cruelty exposed a price worth paying for the symbolic triumph that abortion represents for their belief system, the exposure has been mostly an embarrassment calling for a cover-up.

     Perhaps the real significance of the release of the videos lies at a different level. As much as the callousness exposed defies any excuse, and any attempt to ignore it by changing the topic of conversation, it also defies being triumphantly utilised as a weapon against opponents or as an instrument of obstruction against political rivals. Such cruelty calls for serious contemplation. It calls for Christians to remember exactly why it is that the Christian faith calls for an attitude to the life of other human beings that cannot but abhor the cruelty of abortion. It calls for Christians to contemplate the love of God.

      “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,” a Psalm says, “and in sin did my mother conceive me.” In other words, already from the very first moment of our existence are we set in a relation to God. It is a relation in which we fail, obviously; but that is not all that there is to be said about that relationship.

       “You formed my inward parts,” says another Psalm, “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” God Himself has formed us and shaped us, through the processes that He has laid down in nature. We were made for Him from the very beginning, and for His love.

        More than that, God “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world,” the holy Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians, “that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” We are, in other words, from the very beginning, made for the greatest love of all, the salvation of God in Christ.

      And His is the greatest love of all. Out of His love for us the Son of God, who is Himself God from all eternity, became flesh in the womb of His blessed mother, to live a full human life for us and with us, and die for us, and with us. He has made Himself one with us in our life from beginning to end. And this He has done to give Himself to me, and the fullness of His own life.

      His love for me is from before the very beginning of my being. It is love that is from eternity to eternity. It is out of eternal love that He gives Himself to me, and all that is His, His heavenly Kingdom and His eternal life.

        This is His love for me. And this love calls for my love; it calls for love, not only for Him, but also for all who are loved by Him – from before the very beginning of life, and beyond all endings.

       To contemplate the love of God is the proper response to all that which is shocking in life, although perhaps not surprising, and to all that which presents us with the greatest of questions; to stand in awe at His love – and then to live in His love, and live out His love, as best we can.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – August 19, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

New and improved is no match for tried and true

It is a wonderful thing to be part of a liturgical church. Because the ancient liturgy itself, that is: the ordered worship, is such a wonderful thing.

     The ancient liturgy, as it was restored to the Church of Christ at the Reformation, and has been restored at other times when it was lost to her, is Biblical. With its words it proclaims the salvation of God, how the Son of God, who is God Himself from eternity, gave Himself over to suffer and die for our sin, and how He won the victory for us over death and the devil and all enemies of life, and how He now comes to His Church and gives Himself to her, with all that He is, and with all that is His.The dignified reverence of liturgical worship, on the other hand, reminds us of who God is, and who we are before Him. It reminds us of how neither His salvation nor our sin should be taken lightly, as a casual matter. Being in the presence of the Almighty calls for reverence and awe.

       In its form the ancient liturgy is a joyful celebration of the salvation of God. It lifts our minds above the struggles and sorrows of common life. But it does so, not by encouraging us to ignore real life as it really is, nor by manipulating us into pretending that we feel differently than we actually feel.; rather, as we come before the face of God, burdened by our life as it really is, we are made to look into the realities of God and know that the realities of this life are not all there is. We are made to look to the realities of God, what His love has done for us, and what His love has won for us, and what shall be given to us, and that it is all already ours when we look to Him in faith, even though it is not what we see when we look to the world around us, nor when we look inside ourselves. The liturgy reminds us that my life with God is what is real – even though it is not what I feel.

      The ancient liturgy is the worship of the Church of Christ throughout all generations. It is the testimony of how God has preserved the faith once for all delivered to the saints throughout the ages. In the ancient liturgy we join in fellowship with the Christians who were before us, and those who shall come after us, unless the Lord will come in glory very soon – “and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”, as the holy Apostle John writes it.

        Entering into the worship of the ancient liturgy I come before God in worship, not to present my own truth, but rather to hear and receive His truth, as He has entrusted it to His Church. And I get to speak to Him with words that are not born out of my own heart, but rather out of the heart of God. And that is good, for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, as our Lord Jesus has said it, and out of the heart of man comes but evil and ungodliness, whereas only good gifts come down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. I get to lay my own thoughts and struggles with the faith aside, and everything else that is myself and my own, and joyfully join the Church of Christ in her confession of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

     And that is what the word “confession” means: to accept and submit to that which is presented to me, rather than to hold on to my own understanding and demands.

       In the Biblical fullness of the ancient liturgy the truth is there for me to enter into. I am reminded that I do not have to create my own realities. The realities of God are presented to me as my own reality, which I have in common with Christians of all ages, and of all tongues and tribes.

     For a Pastor in particular is it a wonderful thing to be part of a liturgical church. It means that there is so much that is not up to me. The magnificent ancient liturgy, restored in the Lutheran Church, makes sure that the congregation will always have the Word of God presented to her, with all its wealth of salvation, even if I should be having a bad day, or week, or month, or life – which I might very well have. That takes a great weight of my shoulders. And it rescues my congregations from my shortcomings.

      For so many reasons, and in so many ways, new and improved just doesn’t measure up to that which is tried and true.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – July 9, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and the Republican Rustler

Though the whole world may have changed – nothing else has!

The court has spoken. And it has spoken absolute nonsense. For of course it makes no sense that it should be my constitutional right to marry somebody to whom I could not possibly be married, because being married means something else, and the most I could ever have with that somebody would be something other than marriage.

    Even though the ruling could hardly be considered surprising, it seems, nevertheless, to have left believers somewhat bewildered. And rightfully so, one would have to say – and wrongfully, as well.

        It is no wonder that Christians cannot help but wonder what the future holds, and wonder how they should respond to whatever the future may hold – along with the followers of other religions that reflect natural law in their understanding of marriage.

     Christians should know better, however, than to panic, and to think that everything will have to be completely different from now on. Christians should know that there is really nothing new under the sun.

       What Christians should do is to look to Christ; as always. For whatever the future may hold, it is all in His hands; it always was, and it always will be. In that regard nothing has changed; nothing ever will.

          The life He gives to His Church and His Christians is the same as it always was. And the life into which He calls His Church and His Christians is also the same as it always was. It is the life in His Word and worship, in which Christians look to Him and seek His mercy, and in which He gives Himself to His Christians, and His heavenly Kingdom and His eternal life, through the forgiveness of sins which He has won for us sinners with His sufferings and death.

       His Word and worship was always the life of His Church, as different as her life conditions have been through her history. His Word and worship is the life of His Christians all over the world today, as different as the circumstances are, in which they live. His Word and worship will be the life of His Church, even if our situation in this country should change so that Christians will be prosecuted and persecuted for refusing to celebrate that which goes against the will of God, as His will is revealed in natural law, and in Holy Scripture.

              Perhaps this is the most important thing about the current cultural changes in common culture, reflected in the recent decision of the US Supreme Court: perhaps it will force Christians to awake to a new awareness of what the faith is, and the life of the Church.

             Good morals in society is not what the Church is there for. And therefore she does not need the government to support her in this regard, either, by forcing unbelievers or those of different belief to live and behave as if they were actually Christian. The Church of Christ is there for the salvation of sinners, including the sinners that are the Church, and Christ Himself is that salvation. It seems that this has been forgotten by many Christians through those years when Western governments and common culture would promote the values and morals taught by tradition and natural law – which were, of course, similar to the values and morals taught in Holy Scripture.

             Now the meaning of marriage has been lost to common culture, and clearly even to the majority of those sitting on the US Supreme Court; and this presents a call to repent for the Church of Christ having failed to teach it clearly, and for His Christians having failed to honour marriage as His sacred ordinance of love, often setting His teachings of loving sacrifice of self aside, or taking them much too lightly.

            And the Church having lost so much of her previous prestige in recent years would be a good reason to repent for having presumed on that prestige. So often we have failed to reach out to the world with love; instead we have often let it seem – and perhaps we have even allowed ourselves to believe it – that we were better than those to whom we should have presented His love for sinners such as ourselves.

           The current situation stands as a call to Christians for repentance and return to Christ. It calls us to seek life in Him, and in Him alone, in His Word and worship, and to repent for our failure to do so. It calls us to surrender to His love and give ourselves over to Him in service to His love. It calls for us to trust in Him to care and provide for His Church, and for me, and make all things well, whatever circumstances He will allow to fall upon us. But then, that was always His call to His Church, and to His Christians, and our life as His Church and His Christians. What the situation calls for is for His Church and His Christians to be exactly that. It is all business as usual.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – May 27, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

Pentecost – the Feast for our Salvation.

This past Sunday was the Feast of Pentecost, fifty days after Easter (Pentecost means fifty in Greek). At Pentecost the Church of Christ celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church.This is the feast of victory for our God, we sing at Grace and Zion Lutheran churches on the great festivals of the Church calendar. And rightfully so. Actually, we could sing that at all our Communion services, for those are all celebrations of our salvation, when our Lord Jesus comes to us and gives Himself to us, with His body and blood, and gives His salvation to us, for real, just as He promised.

In some of our sister congregations they actually do sing it every Sunday, that This is the feast of victory for our God, and it is good and right that they do that. We do not, and that is good and right also. For by us not singing every Sunday that This is the feast of victory for our God, and by us doing so at the festivals, the special character of the festivals comes all the more to its right; we are reminded that each festival we celebrate is a feast for our salvation. We are reminded that the events we celebrate are all events through which God has brought His great work of salvation to completion.

This holds true also for Pentecost; Pentecost also is all about our salvation. It was that so many years ago, fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus; and it is that today.

For the coming of the Holy Spirit means that the triune God Himself comes to us through His Word. This was what happened so many years ago, fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The Church of Christ spoke the Word of God of what His love has done, and spoke it in His power; and those who heard His Word were overcome by the power of His love, and won for His salvation.

And this is what still happens in the life of His Church, at Pentecost and whenever else His Church and His Christians gather to celebrate His salvation. Through His Word of what His love has done, God Himselfcomes to those who hear His Word, and with the power of His love He wins us from the death of disobedience and defiance, and wins us for His salvation, and gives Himself to us, and His salvation.

The Holy Spirit is the life and breath of God (in both the Biblical languages, the word for Spirit also meansbreath), and the very innermost self of God. With the Holy Spirit coming to us, the triune God Himself comes to us, and gives Himself to us. Pentecost means nothing less than that.

Our Lord Jesus said as much, when He spoke in advance about the coming of the Spirit: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my Word; and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him.” And He has had His holy Apostle Paul write it, that “the love of God is poured out into our hearts with the Holy Spirit.” That is how we have come to the faith, so that we embrace the salvation of God. This could never happen by our own choice and decision. For we are in ourselves dead in our trespasses and sins. But with the Word of God of His love and what His love has done for us, His love shines upon us, and shines into, so that death and disobedience and defiance must yield in us, and we surrender to His love. The Word of the cross is, as Holy Scripture says it, the power of God unto salvation.

And the Word with which He makes us surrender for our salvation is His promise of full and complete forgiveness for all sin, and of His Kingdom and His eternal life, given to us freely and for nothing out of the goodness of God, all because of His love and what His love has done for us in the sufferings and death of His Son. More than that, the Word of God is Christ Himself coming to us. For the Son of God is the Word of God, who was with God in the beginning, as Holy Scripture says it, and by whom all things were made. And the Word was made flesh when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And still He comes to us, who is Himself the eternal Word of God, in His Word, through which the Holy Spirit does His work of salvation.

As we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, we celebrate our salvation, nothing less. We celebrate that with His Word and by His Spirit our Saviour gives Himself to us, and His salvation, through His Church’s proclamation of His promise, and in His Baptism, and in the festive meal of salvation – all in accordance with His promise.

Our life as His Church, and as His Christians, is His own life in us. And with that, His heavenly life in us has already begun. And with it, His Kingdom is ours, and His eternal life. This is the feast of victory for our God. And of our salvation. For His victory is our salvation.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – April 16, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

The Peace He gives to us

The Apostle John is the one who tells us. On a Sunday evening, two days after the death and burial of our Lord Jesus, His disciples were gathered behind locked doors, fearful and frustrated, wondering what to do with the rumours they had heard about strange things happening at the tomb where their Master had been buried, as if He had risen, and Him having appeared to some of them, and some of the other people they knew.

And then, suddenly, He stood among them. “Peace with you!” He said, and as He said that, He showed them His hands and side, with the wounds from His sufferings, and from the spear that had made sure that He really was dead.

With the way John tells it, he points to this event as the beginning of Christian worship. He makes this point even clearer, when he describes how they were gathered again the following Sunday, and the risen Lord Jesus came to them again, and said the same thing, and did the same thing – as if a pattern had been established – as, indeed, it had.

For this is what Christian worship is: the risen Christ coming to His Christians and declaring His peace to be upon us, and showing us what kind of peace it is that is His peace, and what His salvation is.

He does this through the men He has set to proclaim His salvation to the world, and to His Church. He said it of His Apostles, on that night, and of the men who would succeed them in the ministry: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” – namely, for the salvation of sinners through the forgiveness of sins. For this purpose He Himself will work in His Church, through His appointed servants. As He also said it of them, in that night: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The peace He gives to His Christians is peace with God, through the forgiveness for our sins, won for us with His sufferings and death. This is what He showed when He came to His disciples and pronounced His peace to be upon them, and, while saying that, showed them His hands and side with the wounds from His suffering and His death.

In His sufferings and death He has borne the wrath and judgement of God against our sin, His righteous wrath against our ungodliness, His holy hatred against all evil.

And so there is peace between God and us. All wrath and enmity is dealt with and done away with.

And He comes to His Christians to give to us the peace He has won for us. That is the life and worship of His Church. His Christians might be fearful and frustrated, wondering what to do with the rumours that it is not true, all that which the Church has always believed, and with doubts and disobedience in our own hearts, and in our lives.

And He Himself comes to us, in His Word and worship, and declares His peace to be upon us. His Church speaks and sings of His love, and what His love has done for our salvation. His appointed servants proclaim and explain His salvation, and announce His salvation to be ours, and His peace to be upon us. And when this is what His appointed servants speak, He Himself speaks through them, and it is true what they say, and it is given to us, as we hear it. Again, as He Himself has said it of the men He sets to preach and teach in His Church:  “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The life of His Church is life with Him, as He Himself comes to us and presents us with the peace He has won for us, and gives it to us.

And His peace is peace with God, and forgiveness for all sin, so that we shall suffer and perish forever in Hell, but live and be with Him in His heavenly Kingdom and His eternal life.

He promises His peace to us, with His Word, and gives His peace to us, with His promise, so that it is ours, and we really have peace with God. And He gives us peace at heart, as He assures us of His peace, with His promise, and when He reminds us of the terrible price He has paid to promise His peace to us. More than that, with His living Word of love He pours out His love in our hearts, with His Holy Spirit, and His life, so that His love is alive in us and assures us of His love.

And then we can have peace. For then we can know that we are right with God. He Himself gives us His assurance. And when we are right with God, then all is well.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – March 4, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

Fulfilled for us

This year in Lent we at Grace Lutheran Church have continued the meditations on the Ten Commandments we began last year, comparing each commandment to the account in the Gospels of the Passion of our Lord Jesus. In the Passion of Christ, we observe not only that each of the commandments of God is violated by those around Him, similar to how we so often violate them, but also that He Himself specifically observes and fulfils each and every one of His own commandments in His Passion.

Whereas His disciples forget their love for Christ over their desire for sleep, He seeks only the will of God. Whereas Judas betrays Him with a kiss, as we so often misuse the name of the Lord by pretending that it is out of love for Him that we do what we do, He Himself speaks the only the truth of God. Whereas we so often neglect or even defile the worship of God, the Son worships the Father earnestly in His sacrifice. Whereas Pontius Pilate and Herod both prove to be poor rulers, and the Jews on their part fail to honour the government given by God and thus reject His lordship, the Son of God submits to the Father’s will. Whereas we sinners kill, or make life miserable for each other, the Son of God dies for sinners to give His own heavenly life to us. And so forth, and so on.

The contrast is striking. As we compare our own goodness and our love for God with the love our Lord Jesus has lived in life and death, we cannot help but come to see how we fall short. This is what love is. This is what we should be. And clearly, we are not that.

In the Passion of Christ the severity of our sin is made clear to us, as it could hardly be made clearer in any other way. Our claims to love God must be revealed for what they are. And it must become clear to us that there is no way we can make ourselves right with God by our pathetic attempts at goodness and godliness.

But in the Passion of Christ His love is revealed also. What He did, He did for us, for our salvation. More than that, in the Passion of Christ we see the Law of God fulfilled. And we see that it is fulfilled for us. For the Son of God came to us to “fulfil all righteousness”, as He Himself said it, when He was baptised with the Baptism of sinners.

In His life and in His death He has fulfilled the Law of God. He has lived the life we all owe it to God to live, in full and complete love and obedience and submission to His will. And this life He lived for us, in our stead and on our behalf, as Head of Mankind.

And He has suffered the death to we have earned with our failure. He has borne the judgement and damnation of God for the sin of the world. And this, also, He has done for us, in our stead and on our behalf, having had Himself baptised into Mankind and made one with us in our sin and guilt.

In His life and death the Law of God has been fulfilled. All that we owe to God, God has received. And all sins and shortcomings have been accounted for and dealt with and done away with.

In His Passion the Son of God has shown us what love is, and what our life should be. He has left us an example of love, and of trust in God, and submission to His will.

More importantly, though, He has fulfilled Himself all that He demands of us; and not only as a demonstration of how it should be done, that which sinners cannot do, but He has really fulfilled it for us, in our stead and on our behalf. The perfect obedience He has achieved and accomplished counts as ours before His judgement.

And this is what sets us free to live with God, and serve Him. He has done it for us, and we do not have to be afraid to. We do not have to be afraid for our sins and shortcomings. The goodness we cannot measure up to has been achieved for us, and given to us. The Law of God now presents itself to us without the threat of judgement and damnation, if we should fail – as we will fail, sinners as we are. The Law of God no longer threatens, but shows what we should do, and how we should live. But first and foremost it presents itself to us as a testimony to the love of God, that His Son has fulfilled it all for us, and borne all judgement and damnation for us, for our salvation.

And it is from this His living Word of love that we come to love Him. With the Word of His love His love shines into our hearts, so that His love comes alive in us, and we begin to love Him, and begin to live in His love. And we can be servants of God, sinners as we are.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – January 22, 2015

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

On being and being nothing

– thoughts in a cold season

It is a strange thing about the cold. I have learnt that there is no such thing as cold. There is heat; and cold is just the absence of heat. Cold in itself is not really anything.

            I am being reminded of this these days. For it certainly feels differently when the door opens, and the cold comes in. Or rather, when air comes in, in which there is no heat – as I suppose it would be more correctly described. And here we see it, once again, how absurd an absolute demand for absolute correctness is, be it political correctness or any other; such demands do nothing other than to suck the life out of life itself, and make it impossible for us to communicate, and live together, and enjoy life …

           At any rate, although cold really is nothing but the absence of something else, and even though we know, we certainly experience thing differently. We even have machines to producecold, freezers and refrigerators and air conditioning; even though there is no such thing as cold.

            I suppose something similar could be said about death; that there really is no such thing. Death is really nothing but the absence of life. Life is what is something.

           And all the more magnificent is the mystery that there is such a thing as life, and that we live at all, considering all that it takes for us to live, all our organs functioning correctly, and all that we need to live being available – and how little it would take for us to no longer be able to live.

         Holy Scripture teaches us that life is only in God, and that to be without God is death. We are only alive because God continually gives us life. And that goes for our souls as well as our bodies. The idea of an “immortal soul” is neither Biblical nor Christian.

           Holy Scripture describes the eternal fate and future of unbelievers as death and eternal destruction. It also describes it as the darkness outside, away from the presence of God, and on the other hand, as being very much in the presence of God, namely in His righteous wrath and judgement, which is a flaming fire against evil.

           And one cannot help but wonder: which one is it? Is it death? Is it cold and darkness? Is it a fire?

Of course we will have to accept that the eternal realities are beyond what we can fully comprehend – even though we understand them well enough from what Holy Scripture does teach. God has not subjected Himself to the demand of the obnoxious enemies of life, that all things in life must measure up to their random standard for absolute correctness.

          The point is that God Himself is life. And when we turn away from Him in disobedience and defiance, it is from life itself we turn away, and we do so for an eternal fate and future so dreadful that it cannot be described in a such manner that we can comprehend it – except that we can understand that it definitelyis not life.

          This is the fate the Son of God has taken it upon Himself to bear for us, He who is Himself God, and life itself: to be without God, and without life, cast out into the darkness outside, and also into the ferocious fire of the goodness of God and His hatred of evil.

          And now that He is again with God in His glory, this is what He promises, and with His promises gives to us, and the eternal future awaiting all who believe His promise: that fullness of life and goodness which is in God, which we cannot even begin to comprehend, or even imagine; except that we understand that it must be the opposite of death. Even though death is really nothing. Except that it is. Kind of like the cold is really nothing, and only the absence of heat. But heat is something. As that fullness of life which is in God cannot but most certainly besomething.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem

Newspaper Article – December 5, 2014

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

Do we know it’s Christmas?

This is Christmas. Clearly enough it is. The advertisements – that unofficial calendar controlling so much of our life and how we feel about it- is on full Christmas mode, and has been for a while. Sometimes they use the term “holidays” rather than “Christmas”, but that really does not make much difference. To most people, “Christmas” and “holidays” mean exactly the same: an enjoyable peaceful atmosphere – although often sought somewhat frantically – and the pleasant visit from the kindly ghost of Christmas past, gently dressed up as “the good old days” when everything was so much better than it is now.

        To most people this is Christmas. So it is only natural that some will use the greeting “happy holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”. And to be all up in arms about it will only make Christians seem petty – perhaps even almost as petty as those who can somehow make any and all references to the “holidays” as “Christmas” into something offensive – even though it should be obvious to all that the word “Christmas” in common usage has no real religious significance whatsoever.

Although most of her Christians are every bit as involved as everybody else in the frantic search for the perfect present, and for the peaceful atmosphere, the Church of Christ has more important things to concern herself with than whether this frantic search should be referred to as “Christmas” or as “the holidays”.

         That is also part of the reason why this is not yet Christmas in Church: because to the Church of Christ Christmas is something else. To her, Christmas is the celebration of the coming of her Saviour, and of His salvation.

           And in Church these days are referred to neither as “Christmas”, nor as “the hollidays”; this season is “Advent”, of the Latin Adventus Domini, “the coming of the Lord”.

This is a time in which we prepare to celebrate that our Saviour has come to us with His salvation. And the way the Church prepares to celebrate this corresponds to the way God Himself prepared His people for His coming, when He sent John the Baptist to call the people to repentance.

          For the Church of Christ, repentance means first and foremost to acknowledge our sin: how severely we fall short of what we owe to God. And this is how we are led to acknowledge and appreciate just how wonderful it is that our Saviour has in fact come to us, when we realise where we would be without Him, and what a tremendously great love it is that He would do this for sinners such as myself.

            We are sinners; and that means that we are ungodly at heart. This is what the way we live reveals: we do not love God as we owe it to Him to love Him.

           And we really deserve to be where we would be without Him, bound for eternal death and damnation. For it really is evil of us not to love God for His goodness, as we owe it to Him.

           And the goodness of God really is greater than all. His Son came to us for our salvation, out of His love for those who despise His love; even more than that, He came to have Himself baptised into our sin and take our evil and ungodliness upon Himself and bear it for us, and suffer for us the dreadful judgement of God against all evil, including the evil we have done to Him, and still do.

           This is Christmas: our salvation, and the tremendous goodness of God. It is wonderful because of what it is. And it is wonderful also because we need it so badly.

And as wonderful as Christmas is, it is well worth celebrating for what it is; and as such it is also worth preparing for. And that is why it is not quite Christmas yet.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem