The Old  Zion Red Church- Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania

On our drive to New York city last week for Navy Fleet week, we finally took a short side trip that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. We went by to see where my first generation maternal ancestor lived and began his family after arriving on board the ship at Philadelphia. The record of his wedding as well as the births of his first three children were recorded in the ministerial records of this church in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, before the Revolutionary War.

The Red Church is in the Blue Mountains and has had four buildings. The first one in the early 1700’s, the present one which was built in 1887. Over the door is a marker identifying it as Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed. Lorentz Jung only lived here seven or eight years after his marriage before heading south into Virginia where he changed his name to Lawrence Young.

I couldn’t help but get a little emotional as I poured out a grateful heart for such a rich spiritual heritage from the first generation in America. But I realize that such a spirtual pedigree does not guarantee us an inheritance apart from a living faith in the Christ of the Scriptures. Like Esau of old, we can squander our inheritance, exchange it for a bowl of fleshly pottage.

Grandparents Henry and Jesse Young (1906)

I was reminded again in New York city in reference to the Marble Collegiate Church of the Dutch Reformed tradition and Trinity Episcopal Church, both which predate the American Revolution, that the witness of the Gospel of Christ has been present in every generation of Americans. It has been the “open secret” that was either ignored or embraced as God’s testimony of redeeming love.

We came home from New York city impressed with the extent that the city embraced the men and women of the armed services during Fleet week. And we came home with a renewed testimony that the churches of the new century continuing to faithfully live out the faith of our Fathers. Our only question is to what degree are multitudes in America squandering their spiritual inheritance?

See my post last year on “A Night to Remember” .

THE BOOK of FAITH INITIATIVE of ELCA

In joining the Book of Faith Initiative, your congregation or organization is committing to becoming more fluent in the first language of faith, the language of Scripture, in order that we might live into our calling as a people renewed, enlivened, and empowered by the Word.

The UNITY that is advocated in this blog is one that already exists. It exists in Jesus Christ as He is witnessed to by God in the Bible. It just seems to be a no-brainer then that all Christians of every tradition would be empowered to understand and bible-2celebrate this unity before the watching world as they become more and more fluent in the “language of the Christian Faith”, which is the Bible itself.

Here in Madison County, Kentucky, there is only one Lutheran Faith Community. But I think this five-year initiative of their denomination, the ELCA, is one that could have great blessings for all of us as a necessary step towards greater practical unity. It was of course MARTIN LUTHER who provided one of the greatest contributions toward restoring the Christian Faith of the Bible. Others that went before him all shared a common conviction (such as John Wycliff) that the Bible must be put into the hands of every Christian in their mother tongue.

So I applaud what this initiative is doing for believers in the ELCA tradition and I heartily recommend it to every Christian as one of the necessary ways for all of us “to grow up into the fullness of Christ” for the great blessing of our world and for the glory of GOD.

“THE PURPOSE of The Book of Faith Initiative is to increase biblical literacy and fluency for the sake of the WORLD”. BOOK of FAITH SITE

ST.THOMAS LUTHERAN CHURCH  (Richmond,Kentucky)

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER on READING the BIBLE