These are my remarks from the two University Lutheran Chapel benefit concerts held in Dallas, TX and Houston, TX on October 7th and 8th, respectively.
From John 1: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
These words from the 1st chapter of John tell us who our Lord is, and how He operates. Our God is Spirit, but not only Spirit. Our God chose to take on flesh – stuff, created matter – in order to be with us in our need and rescue us from the sinful condition in which we had put ourselves. You see, God uses stuff to bring us Jesus. Jesus Himself was true God and true man – stuff. He uses water – stuff – to make us His children and give us His Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism. He uses bread and wine – stuff – to give us the Body and Blood of Jesus – stuff – to give us His gifts. He uses pastors – stuff – to publicly preach His word, and all believers – stuff – to bring that word to all those with whom they come in contact.
Our God is not aloof, and he’s not mystical. He’s very much down to earth, in, with, and amongst us to give us what we need: His forgiveness, life, and salvation for us, on account of Jesus Christ. And He uses stuff – a church building, pews, hymnals, specific locations in the world – so that believer and unbeliever alike will know exactly where they can find Him and His forgiving Word.
This is why it is so sad that University Lutheran Chapel is losing their building. This loss doesn’t remove God’s forgiveness that has been given to each member of that congregation. It doesn’t stop the mouths of the pastor or members in speaking God’s Word. But it does remove the very real and visible presence of that forgiveness washed, preached, and fed into their lives. The visible presence of that church building on the campus of the University of Minnesota is a great symbol, to all who might see it, of the reality that there is a God, and He is for us.
Some of the details of this congregation and their current circumstances are on the green handout you received when you came in. ULC is a faithful congregation and a faithful ministry to the students of U of M. And they seek to remain so. At this time, it seems that they will lose their building. These, our brothers and sisters in Christ, are hurting greatly. They have had a disaster leveled upon them. So let us help them, let us seek to build them up. If you are so moved, please give. They will need money to continue having a presence near or on the campus. They will need money to ensure that the current members of the congregation can continue to have a place to gather, hear the Word, and receive the Sacrament. Thank you for coming tonight, God bless whatever you are able to give, and God’s blessings to you throughout all of your days.