Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

One of the things I love about being a dad is that I can be a kid with my kids, which if you ask my wife, me being a kid is something I am pretty good at and it is something I do often. Another thing I enjoy about being a dad is getting to watch movies with my kids. One of their favorite movies, and one of my favorites as well, is “Finding Dory.” And for some random reason, as I was getting ready for work the other day before having breakfast with my family, a quote from this movie popped into my head and gave me an idea for this newsletter article.

In the movie “Finding Dory,” Dory was born and grew up in a place called the Marine Life Institute. The Marine Life Institute was an aquarium but also a place where animals who were broken, wounded, or injured were taken to get healthy again. There is a voice there which says, “Hi, I’m Sigourney Weaver. Welcome to the Marine Life Institute where we believe in Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release.” Even though Dory grew up here, through a course of unfortunate events, she finds herself outside of the Institute lost, and confused. Eventually she remembers where her parents are, where she use to live, and returns to find them. (You see, Dory suffers from short-term memory loss.)

As I thought about this, I couldn’t help but think of how the church should be like the Marine Life Institute. The church should be a place where the broken, the wounded, and the injured can come to to find help, healing, and wholeness again. We pray in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” We prayer with the tax collector, who was ashamed of himself, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). We as Christians are broken in some way. We definitely need rescuing, rehabilitation, and release.

And we have a great place to come to so that we can be rescued, rehabilitated, and released. We have such a great place not because of the building, the pastors, or the programs, but we have such a great place because we have a Savior who comes to us. We have a Savior who comes to us exactly where we are in our life and He gives us exactly what it is that we need for our individual rescuing, rehabilitation, and release. First and foremost, Jesus gives us himself. He gives us himself in the Word and Sacraments we partake in. Part of our individual rescuing, rehabilitation, and release though comes to us in the form of our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are just as broken as we are. But here’s the thing … just because we are broken, doesn’t mean we can’t do anything.

Pretty much all the characters in “Finding Dory” have problems too. A young clown fish named Nemo has a stunted fin that didn’t grow right; Hank the octopus is missing a tentacle and has a lot of problems with honesty; Destiny the whale shark has vision problems and runs into things; Fluke and Rudder are sea lions who are selfish and grumpy; Barclay is a beluga whale with a broken echo location system; and Becky is a loon who by looking at her hardly inspires confidence.  All these different characters, with all their disabilities and shortcomings, help Dory, who, like I said early, suffers from short-term memory loss, successfully find her parents.

The people in any church are lot like Dory’s friends. Each of us has our own character flaw, our own shortcoming, our own “disability” … but with God’s help, we can still help each other. With God’s help, we can help people find their way into the loving, rescuing arms of our ever-so caring Savior.

And it if it wasn’t for our Savior coming into this dark and broken world, if it wasn’t for our Savior who had no sin to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) … we would never be rescued from our sin, rehabilitated in our faith, and released into the world, released into the mission field to help others learn and believe in the amazing grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ.

As we regularly come to our Marine Life Institute of Salem Lutheran Church, I pray that we humbly come knowing that we are wounded, broken, or spiritually injured in some form. I pray that we receive the rehabilitation need so we can leave as brothers and sisters in Christ who have been strengthened in our faith. And being continually rescued and re-strengthened by God’s Word each and every day, each and every week, may we be ready to receive the ultimate release found in the loving arms of our Savior in our eternal home of heaven.

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Mike