June 1, 2020
"Go, make disciples,
baptizing them, teaching them.
Go, make disciples,
for I am with you till the end of time.
Go, be the salt of the earth.
Go, be the light for the world.
Go, be a city on a hill,
so all can see that you're serving me.
Go, make disciples."
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #540]
The readings for Sunday, June 7, 2020, the Sunday of the Holy Trinity, are as follows:
There was no Monday Musings last week because, quite frankly, I ran out of time. In preparing for this past Sunday's recorded service and other writing obligations, I kept putting off this responsibility, until time caught up with me. Normally, I would have written a day late, but by that point, I was exhausted.
This past week gave me even greater insight into what many of our rostered leaders have been going through on a weekly basis for the past couple months since the suspension of in-person public worship. I continue to say at every opportunity how much I appreciate the additional work you've been called to do in light of the circumstances we are facing. I sense many of you are working harder than ever and yet, you are haunted by this feeling that you aren't doing enough. To you I say, don't minimize the impact you have had on the people you serve. Don't minimize how much your people value your efforts and your presence among them. Don't minimize the many ways that your ministry has been a blessing to others.
Another thing I learned from last week's experience was the hazards of recording a sermon a week ahead of time. After editing and uploading our worship service in order that you would have it in a timely manner, I watched the horrific events that took place in Minneapolis and the subsequent explosion of protests that boiled over throughout the country.
My conscience kept gnawing at me to make some sort of revision to my sermon in order to make it relevant to what was happening all around us. I winced each time I watched myself on video on Pentecost Sunday make a verbal reference to breath, knowing that I should have addressed the fact that we are in this state of civil unrest because one man, George Floyd, was denied the breath of life.
I'm not one who relishes in writing reactionary pastoral letters or messages. Too many letters eventually lose their impact. Yet as I witnessed the events unfolding and becoming increasingly violent, I became determined that this space would become the forum in which I voice what has been simmering inside me for days.
I went back through some of what I had written previously, and to no great surprise, I discovered a post that I had written on my blog and on Facebook nearly six years ago, when a grand jury acquitted those responsible for the death of Michael Brown in St. Louis. That was the tragedy that gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement.
As I read the words I had written then, I was saddened by the fact that in six years, other than the names and the places, not much else had changed. People of color, especially black men, still live in fear for their lives and in frustration that racism is no less rampant in our society.
As your bishop, I am called to serve the people entrusted to my care, regardless of what they may think or how they feel about others. Those are the words I promised to live by when I was ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
But as a person of color, I am called to live in my own skin. It is something I can't hide because it is the first thing that people notice when they see me. People make immediate judgments which may or may not change once they get to know me.
This Trinity Sunday's Old Testament reading from the first chapter of Genesis calls our attention to the creation story. I am always drawn to verse 27 which states:
So God created humankind in [God's] image,
in the image of God he created them;
The reading goes on to say that when God saw everything that God had made, indeed it was "very good."
I ask myself, if we are created in God's image, why do we fail to see God when we look upon another individual?
Look at the following photos. The people pictured may not look like you, but they were created in God's image, as you were.
I cannot ask you to understand what I live with daily. This is how God made me. It is my responsibility. But I can ask you to make some effort to bear witness to the faith that you profess and see God in the face of others.
And I invite you this week to reread your baptismal vows, that ask you to continue in the covenant God made with you:
To live among God's faithful people,
To hear the word of God and share in the Lord's supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
Last Friday, the ELCA Conference of Bishops released a statement reaffirming this church's commitment to comb at
racism and white supremacy
An online ELCA prayer service, including leaders from across the church and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as preacher, is being planned for June 17, 2020.
I signed on to the document, along with my colleagues in the Conference. I pray that in addition to statements, we reinforce them with deeds.
This is pretty last-minute, but Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has called the ELCA to observe June 1, as a
National Day of Mourning
for all those who have died of COVID-19, which now number more than 100,000.
The page also has links to materials that can be used in our worship and liturgies. Since it was announced so late, I would encourage churches to make some provision in upcoming worship services to remember those who have died, some of whom are members of our congregations.
My electronic meeting schedule this week is as follows:
: Staff meeting.
: Northeastern Ohio Synod Conference Deans
Conference meeting with Cleveland East, Cleveland West, and
NEOS Worship Committee
NEOS Executive Committee
Meeting with Region Six Bishops
Finance and Budget Committee
Conference of Bishops Weekly Check-in
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has provided a sermon in video and written format that may be used by congregations in your local online worship or devotional ministry this coming Sunday. However, I am told an updated version is forthcoming that addresses the events of last week. Please watch our Wednesday e-news for further details.
Our closing prayer for this week is found on page 79 of our Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal under the heading of The Human Family. If you don't own your own copy of a hymnal, I would invite you to purchase one for your home. It is a very helpful resource for family devotions and in-house worship, especially during these times when we are absent from our church buildings.
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son. Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred that infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and, through our struggle and confusion, work to accomplish your purposes on earth; so that, in your good time, every people and nation may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
+Bishop Abraham Allende