October 14, 2019
Let streams of living justice
flow down upon the earth;
give freedom's light to captives,
let all the poor have worth.
The hungry's hands are pleading,
the workers claim their rights,
the mourners long for laughter,
the blinded seek for sight.
Make liberty a beacon,
strike down the iron pow'r;
abolish ancient vengeance:
proclaim your people's hour.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #710]
The assigned lectionary readings for October 20, 2019, the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
The past two Saturdays have found me in Atlanta, and Washington DC, for a couple of bishops' installations. Normally, when a bishop is installed, several colleagues from the Conference of Bishops are present to lay hands on the newly installed, and give witness to the ministry and mission that we share.
These two installations have great significance for the conference because of the diversity they bring to the leadership of the ELCA. The Conference of Bishops now includes six bishops of color and two bishops who identify as LGBTQ+. Among the bishops of color, four are latino/a. And I have yet to mention that 24 of our 66 bishops are women.
l to r: Kevin Strickland, Idalia Negron, Patricia Davenport,
Yehiel Curry, Abraham Allende
This diversity is a far cry from five years ago, when I first entered the conference.
Why point this out?
Because the leadership of our church is becoming more reflective of our society. As our congregations strive to become diverse, this is the image that will hopefully point the way.
This coming Saturday, the Rev. Yehiel Curry will be installed as Bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. I, unfortunately, cannot attend, but I will be praying that his installation will be as Spirit-filled as the previous ones, and will continue to give powerful witness to our church and its people of the "Kin-dom" of God: "A great multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb." [Revelation 7:9]
Our Scripture readings for this 19
th Sunday after Pentecost touch upon the themes of prayer, persistence, perseverance, and patience. These four themes are inextricably linked, but they don't guarantee us success, or victory, or an easy life, or even that our prayers will ever be answered in our earthly life. That is the challenge that God puts before us.
In the Old Testament reading, Jacob wrestles with a man whom we presume to be God. In Paul's letter to Timothy, he advises his young disciple to be persistent and have the utmost patience. And in our Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples a parable about the need to pray and not lose heart.
The parable Jesus tells is commonly known as the parable of the Unjust Judge and the Persistent Widow. It's easy, (for me, at least) to make connections between what Jesus is telling his disciples and much of the injustice and oppression that seems to prevail in our world today.
The widow in our story has no standing in her society. She has no one to speak on her behalf. She is a picture of helplessness. Yet throughout Scripture God shows a special preference for just such a person as this widow, the weak and vulnerable.
Likewise, we are called to be advocates for those who are without hope in our society; to speak out on issues that affect our neighbors and to work for change in public policy in order that all may experience blessing, and the "life in abundance" that Jesus promises.
Pursuing justice is a form of prayer. We dare to approach the reality we cannot see and
refuse to give in to appearances. Concern for the well-being of others lies at the very heart of our Christian faith. It is what we mean when we declare in our baptismal promises to "care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace."
Our Northeastern Ohio Synod Council will meet this Friday and Saturday in retreat. We will welcome our newest members and look ahead to the tasks that await us in the coming year. Our Conference Deans will join us on Saturday to be a part of the planning. This fall's retreat will be at a new location: The Loyola Retreat House in Clinton, Ohio.
Because of the council retreat, the Lutheran Center offices will be closed on Monday, October 21. Therefore next week's Monday Musings will publish on Tuesday.
This week and always, may the Lord watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth forevermore. [Psalm 121:8]
+Bishop Abraham Allende