October 28, 2019
Give thanks for those whose love is pure,
a sparkling precious stone:
they show by what they say and do
an inward beauty, warm and true,
for God's concerns they own-
God's love through them is known.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #428, verse 3]
The assigned lectionary readings for November 3, 2019, All Saints Sunday, are as follows:
In the Gospel reading from Luke for this coming All Saints Sunday, my eyes riveted on the phrase: "
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled."
 Courtesy: Getty Images
A June, 2019, article in the online
BBC News states that about a quarter of children - 7.7 million in total - who are served lunches at public schools, pay full price. The rest qualify for free or reduced meals in schools - a government-funded program which currently benefits millions of children across the country - based on family income.
There are reports, however, that when children can't pay even those reduced prices, some schools have refused to serve them, or, in some cases, give them snacks instead.
Here are but a few statistics.
In 2018, 16.2% of all children (11.9 million kids) lived in poverty in the USA. That's almost 1 in every 6 children.
And, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 6.9 million individuals who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force were poor.
Yet when compared to the rest of the world, these statistics pale by comparison. Of the world's 6 billion people, more than 1.2 billion live on less than $1 a day. Two billion more people are only marginally better off.
The Gospel according to Luke is known as "the gospel of the poor." It has also been called perhaps the most dangerous book in the Bible.
In the fourth chapter of Luke's Gospel, an adult Jesus preaches his first sermon and declares that, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor."
Luke had already signaled as much a few chapters earlier in Mary's song, The Magnificat, when the mother of Jesus declares that God:
...has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
   he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
The Bible is consistent, from Genesis to Revelation, in that the word of God lifts up the lowly and counsels us to be mindful, to be aware of the plight of the poor and not to ignore it. But Luke brings it to the forefront.
Jesus embraces the very people the rest of religious society rejects. Thus, the challenge to people of faith today is building a future together that includes everyone, not just the privileged. Such action has the potential to transform our society.
The kingdom of God is a kingdom of well-being, a kingdom of justice, a kingdom of abundance, a kingdom of joyous harmony. It is a kingdom we recognize when we are fully in God's presence. God's presence encompasses all of creation. God's presence has no social boundaries.
Through the words of this gospel story Jesus invites us to open our eyes to this new world and glorify God. He calls us to be a people without boundaries. Our mission as people of God is to be people who draw no distinctions, to be a people who recognize the dignity of every human being. The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. That is what we know as the Kingdom of God.
On All Saints Sunday, it is a custom at most congregations to commemorate those who have died in the past year. We at the Lutheran Center will remember those rostered ministers who faithfully served in our synod and entered the church triumphant over the past year. If any of the following saints served in your congregation at any time during their ministry, we ask that you remember them in your commemorations as well.
+   The Rev. James S. Cline        February 7, 2019
+   The Rev. Donald R. Rice       July 9, 2019
+ The Rev. Dennis J. Engler      August 5, 2019
+   Deacon Louise K. Manke      September 6, 2019
Tuesday of this week I will be meeting and worshipping with the rostered ministers of the Southern Conference at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in New Philadelphia.
Also, Tuesday evening in Columbus, I am giving a five-minute presentation regarding the ELCA's Sanctuary Declaration. I was asked to frame it around this Sunday's Gospel reading. That, of course, forced me to look at it through the specific lens of immigration. And while this reading doesn't make specific reference to immigrants, it does demonstrate an apparent concern for the marginalized and the oppressed in society.
Our society, our now-global society, is full of divisions. Indeed, it feels like we have found many more ways to divide ourselves than could have been imagined. A significant part of our response to God's love, and the blessings, both spiritual and material, that are showered upon us, is that we share God's concern for all those that are vulnerable in our midst.
Saturday morning at 10:30, we will gather at Parma Lutheran Church in Parma, to celebrate the ordination of Christina Krnac, who has been called to serve at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jefferson, Ohio.
All rostered leaders are invited to vest and process. The color of the day is Red.
Sunday, I will be with the people of God at the Lutheran Church of the Master in Bedford, as they welcome their interim Pastor, the Rev. Donald Frantz.
This week and always, may the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you. [Ephesians 1:17-18]
+Bishop Abraham Allende