Greetings and happy New Year in our Lord Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
In the early days of 2022, have you heard people discussing the meaning of their lives and what life will be like this year? A casual observer might conclude that there is a lot of good in life. Nature is beautiful. Relationships can be wonderful. Each day brings joy through work, play, personal interactions, and our possessions.
But the observer might also wonder why life is tarnished. The beauty of nature is easily stained by pollution, plague, and storm. Relationships may be strained and can break. Work, hobbies, and possessions often cause stress instead of satisfaction.
And it gets worse. Life isn’t just tarnished; it’s full of trouble and evil. People are selfish and hateful. And when we take a good look at ourselves an ugly truth dawns on us: this darkness isn’t just in others; it’s in me by nature!
As people ponder this strange environment of beauty and breakdown, they may feel determined to make things better. “We can get things right,” they think, “we just need better solutions, good leaders, and to all work harder to do more good than evil!” Our best efforts, though, often fail to solve our problems—and they do nothing to bring us closer to the Lord of heaven and earth.
But, by God’s grace, we have the answer! God’s Word exposes how our natural assumptions were off-track from the very start. The Lord describes people as sinners who are without hope and who will be separated from him, yet he promises to rescue us from death. God says this present world is passing away, but he invites us to look ahead to a new world in heaven. Scripture declares that we aren’t here to serve ourselves; we were created to glorify God and serve others.
Best of all, the Bible tells the full extent of our Savior’s love, that while we were cursed with sin that separated us from the holy God, he went to inconceivable lengths to save us. He sent his one and only Son Jesus to live a perfectly God-pleasing life for us. Then Jesus willingly took on the full punishment for our sin. His perfect life and full payment for all sins earned God’s favor for us and restored our relationship with the Father. The curse of sin was broken; Jesus rose from the dead. All people who trust in the saving work of Jesus are freed from sin, death, Satan, and the anxieties of this life. What a precious truth the Spirit has given us!
We have a multi-pronged approach to bringing the Lord’s answer to the world. Our churches are the frontlines for local gospel ministry. They also unite under the banner of “WELS” to carry out large-scale work such as training our future leaders in ministry, carrying out home and world mission work, and supporting other congregations. We praise God that he has richly blessed these efforts! (Learn more about the work of our synod at wels.net/annualreport or in this month’s WELS Connection.)
Amidst all the pain and hopelessness in the world, knowing we have the answer, let’s resolve by the Spirit’s power to keep working together to share this good news of Jesus with more people this year. Your prayers, testimony, and a gift to WELS Mission and Ministry help to do that. Thank you!
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Kurt Lueneburg
Director, WELS Ministry of Christian Giving
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you for your many blessings on our church body in 2021. You nurtured our saving faith in Christ through your gospel in Word and sacraments. You allowed us to return to in-person gatherings and to restart projects that had been paused. You opened doors to new mission opportunities and strengthened our recruitment of future pastors and teachers. You also granted many other blessings that allow us to carry out gospel ministry in various ways. We pray that you continue to lead us in 2022 as we seek to bring glory to your name by proclaiming Jesus as the world’s Savior. Amen.