April 9, 2018

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.
[1 John 3:1]
The readings for this coming Sunday, April 15, the Third Sunday of Easter, are as follows:

I'm back after spending two days in Washington D.C. last week, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ACT Now to End Racism, was the name of the event, which launched the National Council of Churches' Truth and Racial Justice Initiative.
It began with an interfaith worship service on Tuesday evening at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox church, and continued on Wednesday morning with prayers and a silent march from the Martin Luther King Memorial to the mall, where a variety of speakers and musicians from different faith traditions honored the slain civil rights leader who awakened the conscience of America to the sin of racism and segregation, first in the south, then throughout the entire United States.
I was blessed to be with many other ELCA Lutherans, including several Northeastern Ohioans who made the arduous bus trip that left Cleveland at Midnight on April 4, and returned that same afternoon, arriving back in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
You are to be commended for your painstaking efforts to honor the memory of Dr. King and, more importantly, to witness to the nation that the sinfulness of systemic racism is widespread and continues to threaten our ability to live together in shalom, peace, as God intended for us to live.
The Washington Post gave front-page coverage to the event, which was one of many held across the nation. The article gives a lot of detail, and for that reason, I considered using a bunch of photos to give my perspective of the story. But this is one of those times when words are necessary.
The crowd was small by comparison to other rallies, such as the March for Our Lives, held just a couple weeks earlier. But the numbers don't reflect the powerful testimony that people of faith do care and are concerned for the deep racial divide that exists in our nation; that we are in need of repentance for the sordid injustices of our past, and the bigotry that is rampant in our present day.
Those who did not attend might ask, "Why is this so important? What does it have to do with me?"
Our covenant of baptism entrusts us with the responsibilities of caring for others and the world God made, and to work for justice and peace.
As people of faith, we are called to defend the dignity of every human being. We are called to speak out against discrimination of any kind. We are called to advocate and act to realize the change that will make for a more equitable society.
We are children of God, as John tells us in the second reading for this Third Sunday of Easter. That is the one identity that we have in common and supersedes all other labels that we love to put on people. When we begin to think in terms of what unites us - God's love - we can boldly proclaim the grace and forgiveness we have through the death and resurrection of Jesus and strive to bring healing and wholeness to all people, and unity to the nation.
On Saturday, April 7, 2018, the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, companion synod of the Northeastern Ohio Synod ELCA, elected a new bishop, the Rev. NE Khodoga. We pray for all God's blessings on his ministry and on the people of God in the Northern Diocese.
This week we begin our third annual Interim Ministry Training for pastors at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Stow. We offer this training to equip pastors with specialized training that will enable congregations to focus on mission and ministry during the interim period and prepare them for calling another pastor.
Tuesday afternoon I will be in Columbus to attend the installation of the Rev. Kathryn "Kit" Kleinhans as Dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University.
Sunday, I will be with the people of God at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, to preach and be a part of their adult forum. The Associate Rector of St. Paul's is the Rev. Richard Israel, a Lutheran pastor who has served this parish faithfully for many years. Thanks to our full-communion partnership with the Episcopal Church, we continue to grow ever closer through ecumenical dialogue and common mission.
This week and always, may the light of God's face continue to shine upon us and put gladness in our hearts.
+Bishop Abraham Allende