We're Here!

And what a week it promises to be. I just left the assembly's opening worship service -- I came down a little late, and the service had already begun. I wasn't quite sure where the worship hall was, but I knew I was headed in the right direction because the joyful noise of one thousand Spirit-filled Lutherans singing with all their hearts flowed out with love and purpose into the cavernous hallway. What a sound!

"Hail thee, festival day, blest day to be hallowed forever, day when our Lord was raised, breaking the kingdom of death."

The familiar tune and powerful words led me right into the heart of Lutheran worship. Right into the heart of the Lutheran expression of faith. The sure and certain knowledge that, through the grace of Jesus Christ, we are no longer prisoners of death, in any of its disguises. We are no longer prisoners of fear, or of disagreement, or of division, or of, at its worst, distrust and hatred.

Our Presiding Bishop, Mark Hansen, spoke to this in his inspired sermon when he proclaimed that the risen Christ came to his frightened, immobilized disciples in the upper room -- not waiting to be invited in, not waiting for them to settle any theological argument -- no, he came to them unbidden and unexpectedly, and did two remarkable things. First, he offered them peace. Forgiveness. Unconditional love. And then, when they believed, he breathed on them the power of the Holy Spirit.

That, Bishop Hansen said, is what Jesus does for us today, at this assembly. He casts out all fear. He blesses and brings peace, and he offers us again and again, over and over, without preconditions and without being asked, the power of the Holy Spirit, which guides and comforts and unites us in one common mission: to offer that same loving and grace-filled word to a world filled with pain. Peace, Jesus said. Do not be afraid. And those who heard him, those who hear him today, experience real and powerful transformation and unity of purpose.

It is this ground upon which we stand this week as we enter into what could be the most difficult discussions we have had in the twenty year history of this united Lutheran church, the ELCA.

I pray, for both sides of these troublesome sexuality issues, that we will take this powerful word to heart. Perfect peace, the Bible repeats, casts out all fear. And make no mistake about it, it is fear that motivates so much of our conflict in the church. It is fear that motivates self-righteous anger, fear that motivates bigotry and hatred, fear that motivates defensiveness and stubbornness, and we are all victims of that fear.

My prayer is that we will come together, listen to each others' stories, and find common ground, free of fear and all of the evil that arises from it.

My prayer is that we will experience -- recognize and embrace -- the power of God's Holy Spirit, and that we will all be led to transformation, peace, justice, and unity.

Laura B

Tomorrow: Graceful Engagement


  1. Hey Graceful folks!

    Not knowing yet how to post directly, you'll have to deal with me in the comment area!

    I've been praying that we, Grace's nine beautiful people, and all the Goodsoil volunteers, may be part of God's movement in this church. But it just hit me: God meets us here! All of us! And I'm preparing myself to be surprised, so see God moving in the church in many in various ways, to be fed here.

    Business sessions began tonight, and I spent the time praying in the next room. This isn't the natural place for an activist like me: I'd much rather be on the floor speaking! But I'm working on trusting the Spirit to do what I cannot: waiting and watching in prayer, knowing that the right moment for speach will come.

    Next door to the business meeting, we sang, we read responsive prayers, we sat in silence. We held all of the procedings of the assembly up to God. And we offerred our own stories, sharing them as prayers. I'm here because of so and so, and I pray the chuch may be a place that welcomes them. I'm here because this is what God is doing in my life...Our stories, our presence, our small-talk in the hallways, are all movements of the Spirt. I hope for the grace to simply be here, present to the church, present to Jesus revealed among us.

  2. Forgive my voluminous ignorance . . . But I can't quite get a grasp on how the voting is going to work. Will "our" legislation require a 2/3 vote or not? I'm getting sort of mixed signals or else I don't understand the parliamentary language well enough . . .

    I'm holding you all in prayer.

  3. nevermind my question. I found my answer.

    holding you in prayer all the same. :)