“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4
There’s another type of unity in the church we haven’t discussed yet, and that is the unity between the Church Triumphant (the saints in Heaven) and the Church Militant (those of us still fighting the battle here on Earth). In case you are wondering, when Lutherans say “saint” it does not refer to certain particularly holy people: we believe all Christians are both saint and sinner.
It is our responsibility to pass the faith on to the next generation. In the founding documents of our church (St. Paul’s Free Lutheran of Leitersburg, Md) our forbears expressed the desire that their children would remain true to the evangelical faith and confessions of the church and would pass it on to succeeding generations in the community. That’s been going on for 190 years now. Those of us at St. Paul’s may not be physical descendants of those charter members, but we are certainly their spiritual descendants. When I worship in our old sanctuary, my voice and my prayers are joined with theirs. I can feel that unity. Some Orthodox churches feature paintings of saints on the columns and ceiling of the church: a reminder that those who went before are still with us.
In our Lutheran communion service we say “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify your name” …another important reminder that our fellowship includes those who have gone before us. We may not think about it often, but we should. It’s a source of peaceful strength.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Who are your witnesses? Who are you witnessing to? Please send us your stories.