Friday, July 06, 2018

Bound Together in Christ's Love

Dear Friends in Christ,

The following was written by Iowa District West President Steve Turner as part of his message
to the delegates of the District Convention June 24-26:

Bound Together in Christ's Love

The theme for the Fortieth Convention of Iowa District West is Bound Together in Christ's Love. It
is based on Colossians 3: 12-17. (Theme verse v. 14: ''And above all these put on love, which binds all things together in perfect harmony." --Pastor Merrill)

Paul begins with good news. You arc Chosen! We arc chosen by God to be His people. In the book
of Ephesians it says, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Ephesians 1 :4 ESV). Paul reminds us that from the very beginning of time, from the foundation of the world, God has chosen us to be IIis people. God sent Jesus for us! "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3: 16 ESV). Whoever believes in Him has eternal life. Christ Jesus lived, died and is risen for us! This is the good news of God's Grace. In Christ Jesus, God chose you to be one of His own sons and daughters. Our identity as the people of God is that we have been chosen by Him to be His people and to share in His glory forever.

This identity as people of God is lived out over and over in the congregations oflowa District West
(lDW). Pastors are present with their people as they faithfully visit the sick and shut-ins of their
congregations. Teachers, Deaconesses, Directors of Christian Education and other church professionals are forming and informing the next generation of Christians. Church members are volunteering to serve in their congregations and communities. Hundreds of quilts are prayerfully constructed and other projects of mercy are offered by willing servants to the Glory of God. These are acts of compassion and kindness.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us and in doing so He gives us hearts of mercy. This is God's work in us
as He calls us to put on compassion and kindness. The Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism calls us to be the Holy people of God, to live in perfect harmony with one another. This is our identity as God's chosen people. Jesus says it like this, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35 ESV).

The congregations in Iowa West have a long history of caring for one another and sharing our
burdens with one another. We have a close relationship with Lutheran Family Service. We were very
involved in disaster relief efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. I thank God for congregations that are ready and willing to work with one another in this common confession and common mission. I praise God for pastors who are willing to take on the extra work of vacancies and congregations that will release
them for service. I believe we need to be pioneering in how we continue, bearing with one another, in our ministry together.

I count it a joy and a blessing to be a pastor in IDW. But times are changing. Rural Iowa is changing;
but so are our urban and suburban communities. We rejoice in the timeless blessings of Christ and the
cha.ngeless messa~e of the Gospel. This Good News brings peace and confidence in "changing times." I believe congregations throughout Iowa District West are sensing that they could fulfill their God-given mission better together than separately. Because we are "Bound Together in Christ's Love," I encourage the leaders throughout Iowa District West to explore new ways to join forces with neighbor congregations to bnng the changeless message of God's love for the world to your communities.

Always in Grace,
President Steve Turner

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