This July 4th my dad will turn 89. For the first decade or so of his life, he believed his mother’s assurance that all the hoopla – and especially the fireworks – of the day were in honor of his birthday! As he grew older, of course, he realized the celebrations were actually a way to remember and give thanks for the hard-won freedoms we have enjoyed for more than two centuries as citizens of these United States.

Martin Luther’s Reformation was also about freedom. Indeed, one of the signature biblical verses guiding his work came from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free” (5:1).

It is a marvelous thing to be set free – whether from illness, addiction, depression, feelings of low self-worth, the need to justify ourselves, or so many other things that can keep us captive. But Paul presses beyond the joy of being set free to the purpose and, indeed, the responsibility of freedom. Because we have been set free, that is, we must be vigilant to remain free and to exercise that freedom for the sake of others.

For this reason, Paul warns the young Christian congregation in Galatia that they must not submit to practices of the law that they thought would justify themselves before God, but instead receive God’s free gift of grace and justification. He then reminds them that the law was never given so that we could justify ourselves but rather to help us serve others, as he writes, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (5:13-14).

Luther put it this way, “The Christian is an utterly free person, Lord of all and subject to none. And the Christian is utterly dutiful, servant to all, and subject to all.” That is, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have no need to justify ourselves and so we live knowing that there is nothing we have to do to earn God’s love and nothing we can do that will forfeit God’s love. In this way we are “utterly free.” At the same time, and precisely because we are free, we can give ourselves wholly to the needs of our neighbor, serving them in joy and – you guessed it! – freedom.

This July 4th we will have the opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the heritage of freedom we enjoy as citizens of this country. And this fall we will continue to celebrate the heritage of evangelical freedom we enjoy as Lutheran Christians and citizens of the kingdom of God as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. More details will come in the upcoming Messengers, but for now … enjoy this priceless gift of freedom!

Pastor Lose


A glorious  day at Mount Olivet as  Pastor Lose was installed  as our ninth senior pastor!

Dear Mount Olivet Family: Thank you, thank you, thank you! The installation on June 4 was such an affirmation of the strength, vision, and vitality of this marvelous congregation and a wonderful way to begin my ministry with you. I feel extremely blessed to have been called to be your senior pastor and am beyond thrilled to get started. The music for the service was characteristically excellent and I was honored that so many of my pastoral colleagues from throughout the region attended. Your presence, and the contributions of so many of our staff, made it a grand day and celebration. Thank you. Even more, I thank God for you! – Pastor Lose

A Personal Note: In the months since I was first called to serve at Mount Olivet, I have been so grateful for the stories many of you have shared about your life in this congregation. You won’t be surprised that many of those stories revolve around Cathedral of the Pines Camp. As I am eager to get to know and love the camp that holds such an important place in your hearts, and just as eager to begin to get to know our campers, counselors, and staff there this summer, I will be at COP off and on much of the summer, including the first 10 days of July. I also look forward to being in the pulpit at both our Minneapolis and West Campuses multiple times across the summer months. I look forward to seeing you both at camp and at church. Have a blessed summer!