Pre-Lent Retreat! – MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

This Retreat is for all the pastors of our District.  It is being held January 6-8, 2020 in Bismarck.  Rev. Bernie Worral of Immanuel, Fargo will present on Hebrews 11. 

Worral writes, If you’ve ever been to the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. then you’ve seen the statues in the hallways. Each state has two statues…North Dakota has John Burke (Governor, US Treasuer, Chief Justice) and Sakakawea (Explorer). Hebrews chapter 11 also has a great hallway of faith filled with living memorials those who have walked in faith before us.  Hebrews 13:7 says “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

    In our mid-week Lenten services we will be doing just that in the outline of Hebrews chapter 11.  We will start with Abel who by faith offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain. We will continue with Noah who by faith built an ark for the saving of his household. We will walk with Abraham who by faith “obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.” We will look at Abraham again who by faith offered up his only son yet believing that God could raise him from the dead because of the promise: “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” We will walk with Joseph who by faith “made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” And we will travel with Moses who by faith choose “rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” 

    The stories are all familiar, but often misunderstood. I’ve found this notion of moral progress (even in Lutheran commentaries) to be the central way most people look at the narratives of the Old Testament, especially Abraham and Jacob. Yet Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, takes up the “early” Abraham (Gen 15) to say he was justified by faith….before circumcision (Gen 17).  So instead of bringing emphasis on the end product…Abraham the hero offering his son in faith….Paul points us to the faith in the promise from the outset.

Hebrews chapter eleven is the definitive commentary on the Old Testament. And the narratives become the basis for understanding the doctrine of faith. All Christians talk about faith, but what is it exactly? Faith is never in faith…but always points to its object….even if it be unseen.     Lent is far more focused on the passion of Christ….so an Old Testament emphasis might seem out of order. But this idea of sacrifice that is first with Abel, and is seen with Noah who builds the first altar of the bible, and in Abraham offering his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loves….well this all points to the cross.

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