July 15, 2013
So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord, with many others also. Acts 15:30-35
This devotion is not being written because I am a native of Chicago and am proud of the local team, the World Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
It is being written because I like something they did.
No, it wasn't winning all those games, and it's not their unbelievable shooting, nor their gentlemanly sportsmanship and sportsmanlike conduct on the ice. Those things could be argued. Nope, I'm proud of the Blackhawks because of something the organization did off the ice.
The owners of the team took out a full-page advertisement in The Boston Globe.
In part, that ad reads this way:
"On behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks organization and the entire Wirtz Corporation, we want to personally express our heartfelt appreciation to your city, the Bruins organization, and especially the citizens of Boston for the remarkable welcome you showed our team and the many Chicagoans who visited. ... Please know we tip our hat to your city's big heart and gracious spirit. You lead by example and have set the bar very high for others to follow."
Now, serious hockey fans will think I'm absolutely nuts, but the truth is I'm more proud of that advertisement than I am of the Stanley Cup. Maybe that's because finding good losers and good winners under the same roof is a pretty rare thing.
In many ways, it would be a blessing if we in the church had the same attitude.
Like these two teams, or like the church which had its first convention in Jerusalem, we can discuss many things. We can advocate our particular perspectives and push forth our differing points of view. Still, after the church has made its decisions, we go out and go home where we deliver a message that has people rejoicing, because it is absolutely chock full of many encouraging words.
In that way, when all is said and done, the church will be strengthened and there will be joy in serving the Savior whose forgiveness has brought us together and whose sacrifice has cleansed us of our sins.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks You have given me forgiveness and joy in my Savior. May my words be filled with thoughts of encouragement and support for the work the Holy Spirit has, is, and will continue to do in sharing His story of salvation. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries