October 2, 2017
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes.
[Matthew 21:42]
Welcome to year two of Monday Musings. We hope you find our new design attractive and the content just as meaningful.
Bryan Penvose and ELCA Vice President William Horne
I am writing from Chicago where I am attending the Fall Conference of Bishops at the Churchwide offices of the ELCA. This year's Fall Conference was unique in that, for the first three days, we shared several sessions with the Vice Presidents of Synod Councils. Among them was our Northeastern Ohio Synod Vice President, Bryan Penvose.
Gatherings like these are good for these men and women who serve the church by giving of their time to lead the people of God. It enables them to share ideas and learn from each other, as they seek to involve all members of their respective synods and its congregations in worship, learning, witness, service, and support, in order to carry out the mission of Christ in their local congregation, in the wider church, in their community, and in the whole world.
This time together also lets them know that they are not alone in this blessed service, which I like to call worshipful work. Each of our synods is in a setting that has its distinct set of blessings and challenges. Therefore, each of our Vice Presidents has to understand mission and ministry in the way that best bears witness to the gospel on that site, and adapt whatever they may learn here to their local setting.
For several Vice Presidents, it was their first time visiting the churchwide offices and learning about all the ministries of the ELCA. As you might imagine, it was an eye-opening experience. One made the comment, "I didn't realize the ELCA did so much for the people around the world."
That is a message that often gets lost when it comes to telling the story of the ELCA. God works in the world through the church - which is us, God's people. And it is through us that God is able to do amazing acts of ministry, mission and service.
I stated this last week and it bears repeating again today, the question we are challenged with daily is, "What is God calling us, God's church, to do?"
That is the question each of these men and women who serve as Synod Vice Presidents must wrestle with and pray about, as they seek to do God's will with the people in their respective mission territories.
We are God's church, built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ. We are the spiritual bricks that form the structure. Being God's church in the world is not easy. Each of us may understand mission and ministry in a different way, but the good news is we don't do it alone. The Holy Spirit enables us and gives us the strength and ability to serve.
I thank God for these Synod Vice-Presidents and the service they do in Jesus' name.
Roofs ripped off homes in San Juan Puerto Rico.
We hear daily new horror stories coming out of Puerto Rico on the destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane MarĂ­a.
As many of you know, Puerto Rico is where I was born and lived until the age of 8. I still have relatives there, as well as many friends. They are all okay, thanks be to God. I thank you for your kindness and expressions of concern over the past several weeks.
But the people on the island will most likely never recover to the level of life they knew before the disaster. And it is in times like these that God's love is made known by our willingness to extend some form of aid.
I would ask us to do three things:
  1. keep the people of Puerto Rico in prayer.
  2. Consider a financial gift to Lutheran Disaster Response. This is an organization that remains on the ground long after others have left. If you send a check, indicate "Hurricane Relief" on the memo line.
  3. If you wish to help by sending items, they are in need of water, batteries [AA, C, D, 9volts], flashlights, battery lanterns, nonperishable food, tarps.
We will be collecting those items at the Lutheran Center, 1890 Bailey Road, beginning next Monday, October 9, until Friday, October 13. We will have more detail on the collection process later this week.
Repeating my travel schedule for this week:
Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 3) I will travel to Dubuque, Iowa, and a visit to Wartburg Seminary.
From Wartburg, I return to ordain Katy Jacob and Cindy Striker, our two newest rostered ministers, on Saturday, October 7, at 10:30 a.m. at First Lutheran Church in Strongsville.
Sunday, October 8 , I will be with the people of God at Salem Lutheran Church in Wooster, as they celebrate their 190th Anniversary.
Later in the afternoon, I will be at Bethany Lutheran Church in Akron, as they celebrate the history of God's ministry in that congregation, which will come to an end the following Sunday, October 15.
This week and always, may God give us an ever-greater vision of what it means for us to be the church, and may we be open to the prompting and guiding of the Spirit to be a witnessing and serving church.
+Bishop Abraham Allende