June 24, 2019
The assigned lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, June 30, 2019, the Third Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
I'm away on a few days of vacation at Kelley's Island, Ohio. Wi-Fi is severely limited here so I'm unable to post links to the readings or a hymn reference. I apologize for the inconvenience.
I use this time to try, as much as possible, to unplug from the routines of the office. That is much easier said than done. It usually takes about three days to totally decompress, and by then, it's time to return again.
However, I also use this time to envision. Many of my ideas for the upcoming year are generated during this time of rest and renewal. So this time away enables me the luxury of looking ahead, and for that I am grateful.
Allow me to share a few words about last week, when I was in Washington, D.C. for World Refugee Day. I made a visit to Capitol Hill on behalf of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have already seen these words, so pardon the repetition, but migration issues are a passion of mine, and I can't speak enough on behalf of these vulnerable human beings who are created in God's image.
We met with Senator Sherrod Brown, who is very supportive of immigration issues. The rest of our meetings were with legislative aides for Senator Rob Portman, and representatives David Joyce, Jim Jordan, and Michael Turner.
I met Martha-Jeanette Rodríguez of Dayton, who made the rounds with me. She is a native of Colombia, who sought and was granted asylum in this country in 2003, having fled violence in her country. In the United States, she reared five children, who are now professional, productive adults. Rodríguez became a citizen in 2014, and now works for the city of Dayton as an immigration resource specialist for the city's Human Relations Council. Her powerful story put a human face on the possibilities and blessing that human beings bring to this country when they are welcomed and protected.
Our now-global society is full of divisions. I feel like we have found many more ways to divide ourselves than one could have ever imagined. We can be divided by religion, by politics, by ethnicity, by nation, by age, by gender, by sexual orientation, by the kind of music we like, by wealth and poverty and works.
And if that weren't enough, we are gearing up for another marathon of a presidential election campaign. We have seen divisiveness at play in full force over the course of the last decade or more and this will likely intensify well into November of the coming year.
There are a couple verses that caught my eye in the second reading for this coming Sunday, Paul's letter to the Galatian Christians.
The apostle writes: For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
The words, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," are God's showing us the way to love.
Regardless whether you are Republican or Democrat, or where you stand on political issues, our life together is about doing only those things which point beyond ourselves to the new reality in Christ. It is about letting his faithfulness, his love, his obedience, and his truth live in us, and live a Christ-formed life, with our every interaction with one another and the world being shaped by the love of Christ.
This Friday and Saturday, I will be in Chicago at our ELCA Churchwide Offices for a meeting of the Memorials Committee, on which I serve. This is the group that reviews the memorials before they are presented at this August's Churchwide Assembly.
Sunday, I will be with the people of God at Faith Lutheran Church in Fairlawn, as they give thanks for the ministry of Pastor Rick Gordon, who will retire that day. Pastor Gordon, however, will continue to serve on a part-time basis until the end of the calendar year.
This week and always, may your heart be glad, may your Spirit rejoice, and may your body rest in hope.
+Bishop Abraham D. Allende