by Pastor Lehmann
Posted on November 12, 2015 4:23 AM
Well, it's that time of year again - time for ... doctors, drug stores, and educators to start telling you and your children to get flu shots. The reasoning is both simple and unassailable: people are more likely to catch and suffer from the flu in cold weather months and so the more people get the vaccine, which is meant to keep you from contracting the virus, the more people do not get the flu and the fewer people overall who end up being exposed. The vaccine inoculates people against disease and helps protect society at large.
We Christians - especially as Lutherans who follow the church year - have something similar. This time of year we are encouraged more and more to inoculate ourselves spiritually against the diseases of temptation, sin, and corruption. The vaccine - which no one is allergic to, and everyone benefits from - is the means of grace, the gospel that God gives us in his Word and in the Sacraments, and we "get our shots" primarily when we come together for worship.
And this time of year, we get more opportunities and more encouragements to do just that. The Festival of the Reformation points us back to the Scriptures as the only source of true doctrine and trustworthy guidance for our spiritual health. The themes and readings in worship that tell us of the Last Judgment remind us that the disease of sin, left unchecked and undefeated by saving faith in Jesus, leads surely to death and damnation. And the promises that Christ is coming which are repeated both as we end one church year and as we begin a new one in Advent make clear both our deep need for Christ and the comfort that we have in knowing God does not forget his people and has kept his every promise to save sinners - and there is, of course, no greater evidence of that love and faithfulness of the Lord than Christmas itself.
Of course we need such reminders and encouragements every week and every day, but as our calendar year reaches its end, it is good and proper that we take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen our spiritual health. The busyness that overtakes us as "the holidays" draw near tempts us to make less time for worship, when in fact that just means that we need the means of grace even more; the crass commercialism of Christmas in our culture seeks to shift our focus from the Messiahâ€™s grace and glory to mere things that glitter and glow, and to exchange the joys of our salvation in Christ for the impermanent pleasures of hype and "holiday spirit"; and the weakening light and deepening nights too easily open the doors of our hearts and minds to depression and despair. This time of year, then, we especially want and need to pay extra attention to our spiritual health and to be inoculated with the promises of God we hear in his Word, the forgiveness and peace we receive in his Sacraments, and the life and salvation which we sing and say to each other and all who listen in our worship.
So don't put it off, donâ€™t get distracted, and donâ€™t think you have any kind of natural immunity of your own. Come to the Great Physician of your soul and be strengthened and healed. There will be no allergic reaction; the "shot" is safe for everyone. Come to Christ, come to worship, come and be strong - together.