|Bethany Lutheran Church Red Lake Falls MN||
WE ARE CHURCH!
A phrase I heard from every speaker and read on almost every sign. We are church! Not with a capitol C to mean that we are the only church or the best church, but with a small "c" to designate that the WE is the important part of this statement. We...you, me, the Native from the Reservation, the families that attend those "other" churches, synagogues, mosques or temples, the Black child living down the street, the migrant toiling in the field, the families waiting or separated at our borders, every man, woman and child on this earth....WE...every one of us are children of the Almighty God. WE ARE CHURCH!
One family,, brothers and sisters, Black, White, Yellow or Green.
WE ARE CHURCH!
Perhaps you saw the televised footage of over 700 Lutherans marching in protest of our governments immigration policies. Or read newspaper reports or commentaries both pro and con about the Churchwide Assembly that took place in Milwaukee.
In the coming days and months you will begin to hear a lot more about the many resolutions, social statements, and social messages that were debated on and decided on at the Assembly. Some of you will be delighted, some of you will be dismayed, and some of you will probably be downright angry. And regardless how you feel, whether you agree or disagree....
Don't leave your Church. The only place where you can change the church is within the Church. I am personally glad that I stayed IN my church! My ever changing, ever growing, sometimes angering, ever challenging Church. When the charismatic movement took hold of me, I thought it might be necessary to look for a new more open and welcoming denomination. Instead, God moved my family several hundred miles to Bethany Lutheran in Red Lake Falls where I found the Lutheran Minister and the Catholic Priest praying together at a local prayer and bible study. I had found a new home. A home where my children could be raised learning those basic tenets of the Lutheran faith found in Luther's Large and Small Catechism, but more importantly, God's Word, that I still need to remember as we find that we are reminded and encouraged to remember WHO our neighbor is!
We will be reminded that Our Lord said the are NO aliens in our land and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I know you already have something to say about that statement. I have something to say to you. If your argument about the decisions of what the Churchwide Assembly has to say begins with the word "but", then you may need to reconsider your statement.
Most of us realize that our churches tax-free status is put in jeopardy when our pastors speak from the pulpit about who or what we should vote for, and I most certainly agree. So, we place an even bigger burden on our ministers when they witness social wrongs because we need them to instead teach us what God not just wishes we would do, but often times commands us to do.
And to that end, the many decisions made at Assembly will make it both more difficult and maybe even easier for our pastors. Why? Because we as a Church of the ELCA, we as a community of believers, we as individuals and part of the great family of the Almighty God are being asked to stand up for those very same brothers and sisters being affected by bigotry, anger, hate, fear and misunderstandings, regardless of religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation or homeland. Lectionaries, Bible Studies, and Publications will become available for their and our use.
The decisions our Churchwide Assembly were made with much discussion and prayer and they can, and hopefully will, effect our lives, our farms, our cities and even our futures for good.
Please Celebrate the achievements of our Church, the Inclusiveness that continues to spread across our world within our own Church and with other churches, religions, and organizations. And absolutely the Inclusiveness that has brought us to the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Churches Decision to Ordain Women, the 40th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women of Color and the 10th Anniversary of the Ordination of LGBTQ1A+ People without Barriers.
Do Not be afraid of the future!
I hope you will all take the time to read the report on "Faith, Sexism, and Justice " a Lutheran Call to Action that can be found on out church website and the reasons the ELCA is now a "sanctuary denomination ".
Rememver, God is Greater than all the Powers and Principalities of this current world. Listen to His Word and His Teachings. And Grow in His Love.
Christine Van Emmerik
Voting Delegate to the 2019 Triannual ELCA CWA