HOUSTON — President Gerald B. Kieschnick told worshipers at the opening service of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s 63rd Regular Convention that “Christ – His love is here for you!” is the one message the 2.5 million-member church body must proclaim to the world.
Echoing the theme of the July 14-19 convention, “One Message -– Christ! His Love is Here for You!” Kieschnick told the 4,000 delegates and visitors this message must be shared with people who are suffering from natural disasters and personal crises.
“We in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod are blessed, we’re privileged, we’re challenged to ‘vigorously make known the love of Christ, by word and deed, within our churches, communities, and the world,’” he said, referring to the Synod’s mission statement.
“The one message we have to proclaim is God’s love for the whole world, fulfilled in the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ,” he continued. “The power of the one message of Christ’s love is that this love—unlike what the world defines as love—is not self-focused or self-satisfying or self-gratifying. Christ’s love is self-sacrificing.”
Kieschnick said Christ’s love “is given solely by God’s grace, as is stated so clearly in the church, in Word and Sacrament. God’s gift of love in Christ, totally undeserved, is nonetheless very real.”
Kieschnick related two recent personal experiences when he shared this message. One was meeting a young mother on an airplane who was leaving her family to serve in Iraq after her brother had died there two weeks earlier. Another was riding with a cab driver who wondered if his deceased brother was now in heaven.
“In such ‘Whaddya say?’ situations,” said Houston-born Kieschnick, referencing a Texas colloquialism, “we have a response for a world full of people who are facing real issues of life and death every day, experiencing fear, anxiety, loss, trauma, and tragedy, wondering if there really is life after death and where those they love are spending eternity. We have a response that can be abbreviated quite simply in this phrase: One Message—Christ! His love is here for you, for me, for the world!”
Prior to the sermon, a brief presentation of personal stories and video clips reviewed the progress of Ablaze! – the LCMS movement to share the Gospel with 100 million worldwide by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Processing into the main hall of the George R. Brown Convention Center were 150 current and former Synod missionaries, some wearing the native dress of the countries where they serve. Also processing were about 100 high school students, college students, and others who participated in a two-day Convention Outreach Event, hosted by Immanuel Lutheran Church, Houston.