A return policy is something people note when making important purchases or rentals. The word, “return,” implies that there had been a change in the past that led to the current position. We may return toys with defects, clothes that do not fit, and cars when we are finished renting them. In any event, there is a policy for the return. Perhaps it includes bringing the original receipt. Maybe it means bringing the clothing with the original price tags on them. Perhaps it means bringing the car back with no scratches or dents. In each, though, the item had an original owner or user and the item was passed to us for our use. To return it, then, is to bring it back to its sender or its original owner.
Nothing could be truer for us. It is we who left God’s original mercy when we chose our sin over His love. And yet, the “return policy” to Eden’s paradise required a perfect life in complete obedience to the Law. Unfortunately, our sinful brokenness, our tattered receipts, and our dings and dents did not mitigate a return. God would not have us back in paradise unless we were in the condition we were before we were sold—or better stated—we sold ourselves into sin. Thankfully, our ever-gracious Lord Jesus lived the perfect life of obedience to the Law, took upon Himself our guilt and rebellion, died on the holy cross to save us from sin and rose from the dead to facilitate a grand return policy called the “great exchange.” Our Lord took our sin and He gives us His perfect righteousness all as a gift.
“Return,” then, is an appropriate evangelical exhortation for us. “Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” This gracious and merciful God does not want the death of sinners but that they would turn to Him and live. That life need not begin only when we close our eyes and cease to breathe. The new life He has for us begins in the waters of Holy Baptism where we are named and claimed as God’s own children. That new life is replete with forgiveness as we hear and receive Holy Absolution. That new life is nurtured by the Lord’s Supper that brings us forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
To return, then, is not only for our good. It should be welcomed by us. Our Lord is beckoning us to come back to His grace, mercy and peace during this season of repentance and renewal. Read the fine print of His return policy:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. (St. Matthew 11:28 ESV)
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” (St. Matthew 26:26 ESV)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)
It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths. (Isaiah 2:2-3)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 ESV)
Our Lord’s return policy is overflowing with “grace upon grace.” Return, then, to the Lord your God. A blessed Lententide…and many happy returns.
Peace and love,
Saturday Liturgy: 7PM
Sunday Liturgies: 8AM & 11AM
Wednesday Liturgy: 7:30PM
Anointing with Oil for Healing: Once a month as indicated in the calendar.
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A Brief History
By the mercy of Almighty God, Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx, New York, was founded in 1928.
Members of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Yonkers who lived in the Wakefield section of the Bronx in...
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Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church
4360 Rev. Theodore Wittrock Crossing
(Boyd and Barnes Avenues)
The Bronx, NY 10466-1804
Phone: 718.324.1288 - Fax: 718.324.2056
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