Rev. Kimberly Schmidt Cooper
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
James, the brother of Jesus, was the first leader of the church in Jerusalem. He is credited with the theology in the “Letter of James.” From the earliest days following Christ’s ascension into heaven, church leaders have been exhorting Christ’s followers to care for those that don’t have all they need. The letter of James is focused on the work we are called to do as the church in this world. In fact, it is so focused on work and the practicalities of living out our faith that Martin Luther considered removing it from the canon of scripture as too heavy on work and not enough focus on God’s grace.
Lutheran theology emphasizes that the work of salvation is completed in the Person of Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can do to earn our way into heaven. The beauty of that, is that the good works we do are not in order to earn something for ourselves. They are done out of gratitude for all that God has provided us. Whether we donate materials or time to the support and care of our neighbors, we do so out of an abundant life freely given to us by our Creator.
As Martin Luther, himself, said, “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.” Heart ‘n Hands Mission is a wonderful opportunity to live out a 2,000-year tradition of following Christ in the world. I am so grateful to lead a church that has such a wonderful ministry.