August 12, 2019
O God of ev'ry nation,
of ev'ry race and land,
redeem your whole creation
with your almighty hand;
where hate and fear divide us
and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us
and heal our strife-torn world.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #713]
The assigned lectionary readings for August 18, 2019, the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
We are back from what was an exciting Churchwide Assembly in which, as expected, the Presiding Bishop the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, was reelected to another six-year term. She becomes the first Presiding Bishop to be reelected on the first ballot, and by a resounding 90% of the vote.
The ELCA also has a new secretary. Deacon Sue Rothmeyer was elected on the fifth ballot, to succeed the Rev. William Chris Boerger, who will retire on October 31.
The assembly also produced many declarations and decisions which will be enacted into our church's practices and policies. Rather than cover them all in this column, throughout this week, we will send out other publications that will explain, in greater detail, some of the major decisions that were deliberated at the assembly. The declaration as a sanctuary church body, which seems to be getting the bulk of the attention, is one that requires much more explanation than we could fairly give it here.
But in this upcoming Sunday's gospel reading, God's incredible sense of timing presents us with some rather disturbing words that challenge its hearers (and in our case, readers) to determine where their loyalties lie.
Faithful discipleship is a fierce personal allegiance to Jesus that has priority over every other love, affection, and ambition. Personal faithfulness to Jesus may create tension and divisions between us and other people, and it may cost us some relationships.
Our nation is already fragmented in many ways; economically, physically, politically and spiritually - so much so that this has been called the age of anxiety. We live in a world of different religions, different cultures, different races, and different nations. We have different ideals, different opinions, and different thoughts on how things are to be done. We separate ourselves into groups of liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats.
This presents challenges for us as individuals, as a society, and as worshipping communities. And perhaps the second reading from Hebrews provides a glimmer of an answer.
The author invites us to look to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross.
Christ has been along that road, and, alongside of us, aiding us along the path of discipleship.
This is a busy weekend that will take me to several locations in our synod in pretty short order.
Saturday, I will be at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ontario to meet with our ministry candidates from Northeastern and Northwestern Ohio and worship with them.
Sunday morning, I will be in Elyria, Ohio for the annual Lutheran-Episcopal "Worship in the Park," at High Meadows Metro Park, 1750 Ford Road. Nine Lorain County congregations (six Lutheran, three Episcopal) will worship together beginning at 11 a.m. The Rev. Margaret D'Anieri will preach and I will preside. This is the fourth year for this joyous festival, which is a great witness to that unity to which Jesus Christ calls us.
Later in the day, I will be at St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church in Canton, where we will hold a funeral service for the late Rev. Dennis Engler, who entered the Church Triumphant on August 5
. The service begins at 4 p.m.
This week and always, may you run with perseverance the race that is set before you, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith.
+Bishop Abraham Allende