We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
This hemisphere has experienced more than its share of natural disasters recently.
As I write, Hurricane Irma is wreaking havoc on the Caribbean and Florida. Two weeks ago, Harvey ripped through the state of Texas. On the heels of that storm, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake along the border of Guatemala and Mexico left dozens of dead, not to mention the damage to property. (This was, by the way, in the same area which I visited last November as part of a Human Rights Observation Mission.)
I also cannot ignore the fact that Monday is September 11 - a date that has become indelibly etched in our minds. The terrorist acts that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in such a violent fashion on that day forever changed our society.
Catastrophes such as these tend to uproot things that we had hoped would stay neatly and conveniently in place. They invariably change our whole lives in ways we cannot predict or control. They certainly make us aware of the perils of our existence.
No one is totally unaffected. Even if we are not directly in the path of the storm or the violence, we all know someone who is. And our response, our mission as God's people, is to care for those in need. We cannot sit idly by.
We do this in a variety of ways. We pray and we act. Some step in immediately to rescue and help rebuild. Other donate money or supplies. Yet others open their doors to shelter those displaced by the storms.
In all ways, we become the presence of God for others. Our challenge is to live each day as a gift from God, boldly and fearlessly living out the gospel in lives of service, using God's gifts to heal the brokenness of the world.
Last Tuesday I was blessed to be a part of the Solemn Mass of Installation for Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. It was a glorious event. Bishop Pérez exudes a warm, bubbly personality that is genuine and sincere. Though we spoke and interacted only briefly, it was enough to give me the impression that he has a passion for the gospel, a love for the people he is called to serve, and an openness to working ecumenically in the mission of Christ that we all share. I look forward to more discussion, a renewed relationship between the Diocese and the Synod, and a revitalization of our Lutheran-Catholic Covenant.
Each year in the fall it is customary for the bishop to meet with the rostered ministers of our seven conferences to give them an overview of what's going on in our synod and the greater church. We begin this coming
Thursday, September 14
, when I will be with the rostered ministers of the Cleveland East Conference for our annual gathering to at
in Cleveland Heights.
If the name of the church sounds unfamiliar, Peace is our newest congregation. It is the result of the merger between Bethlehem and Hope, which was two years in the making.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
[2 Corinthians 5:17]
Sunday morning, September 17, I will be with the people of God at St. Paul's, Smithville, to celebrate their 175
Anniversary. We will also affirm the baptism of their youth in a rite of confirmation.
That same Sunday, in the afternoon, I will join the congregations of Bethel (Middleburg Heights), Divinity (Parma Heights), Parma (Parma) and Christ the Redeemer (Brecksville); as, together, they celebrate their Good Gifts Picnic. These four churches meet regularly to share and support mutual ministry, programs and develop ways to connect their congregations and serve others. At this event, donations are accepted to support the ELCA Good Gifts Farm Animal Ministry.
This week and always, may God's Spirit act in us, upon us, and through us, and call us to action in service to God.
+Bishop Abraham Allende