August 31, 2020
Draw us in the Spirit's tether,
for when humbly in your name
two or three are met together,
you are in the midst of them.
Touch we now your garment's hem.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #470]
The readings for Sunday, September 6, 2020, the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
I am mindful of the fact that if these were normal circumstances and we had held our assembly in June, I would be writing my final musing today. But by now we've learned not to take anything for granted. The future is always in God's hands.
Were I to be writing you for the final time, I would be recalling the joys of this ministry of oversight to which God called me six years ago. I would be thanking those who have walked alongside me on this journey and expressing gratitude to God for having placed them to guide my path.
Three years ago, at the halfway point of my term, I wrote similar reflections to mark that milestone. And over the course of the last several weeks, I've given a lot of thought about what I would have been writing to you at this juncture.
However, my farewell remarks have been put on the shelf for the time being.
Instead, my focus and energy has been devoted to preparation and planning for an electronic assembly and how to make certain that things go smoothly so that a successor bishop is elected, and I can finally retire.
Years from now, when I write my memoirs (that is a dream of mine), I'm certain I will look back on 2020 with a sense of amazement. Hopefully, the distance in time will afford me the luxury of reflecting on it with some sense of amusement as well.
I make lists from time to time, of things to pray for and about. The one I made a few days ago reads as follows:
Protests against police shootings
With the exception of COVID-19, the rest are in alphabetical order, in case you're wondering, not in any sort of priority. These will not go down as "a few of my favorite things," to quote Julie Andrews.
It is challenging to live in today's society. Every day we wake up to headlines that threaten to unsettle us for the rest of the day. Social media has become a cesspool of maliciousness and mean-spiritedness. As much as I've tried to avoid it, my position requires that I maintain a social media presence. So I've adopted an adage that I use as my guideline for posting on Facebook.
It's somewhat sappy, but I offer it to you nevertheless:
The biggest battle I and I'm sure many others have fought, is how not to let the toxicity of these times rob us of our joy. I think of the words of the Apostle Paul in the second reading for this coming Sunday: Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. [Romans 13:12]
We need protection against sin and evil. But as people of faith, it is also our obligation to confront it. That is the message of the prophet Ezekiel; to warn the wicked to turn from their evil ways.
That is also the cry of the psalmist, that God direct us in the path of God's commandments.
And in our Gospel reading, which continues into next week, Jesus lays out for us a template for living together in community. In order to understand this lesson, it would be helpful to consider the 18th chapter of Matthew in its entirety. The whole chapter talks about our behavior as God's people. Many churches use this chapter as a basis for their church discipline. So I invite you, as a favor to yourself, to take some time over the course of this coming week, to read it at some point and reflect on it.
I will write more as a follow-up next week.
The Lutheran Center will be closed on Monday for the next two weeks, so Monday Musings will publish on Tuesday for two weeks in a row. Next Monday, of course, is Labor Day; and the following Monday is the Monday after Synod Assembly.
My electronic meeting schedule this week is as follows:
Monday: Staff Meeting
Worship Committee Meeting
Ohio Faith Leaders Prayer Gathering
Wednesday: NEOS Rostered Ministers Monthly Gathering
Thursday: Assembly Planning Committee
Region Six Bishops Check-In
Conference of Bishops Weekly Check-in
The next Northeastern Ohio Synod Rostered Ministers Monthly Gathering will be this Wednesday, September 2, 2020, beginning at 10 a.m.
We are pleased to announce that our guest presenter will be Deacon Mary Ann Schwabe, Coordinator of the Northeastern Ohio Synod's Congregational Resource Team, and Natural Church Development Coordinator for the ELCA. She will be discussing "Anxiety in an Anxious Climate."
As our Northeastern Ohio Synod Assembly draws closer, I would encourage all of us to continue in a time of prayer and discernment for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we prepare to call our next bishop. As already mentioned, this assembly will be unlike any previous assembly in history in that it will be held entirely online. Technology has made it possible to conduct the worship and the business of the assembly electronically, including the election of a bishop. If all goes well, we will be one of about a dozen synods of the ELCA that will have elected a bishop through an electronic meeting this year.
This week and next, our closing prayer will center on this very important event. The bishop election committee has prepared these prayers and asks that you keep the voting members as well as all potential nominees and pastors who will be named on the ecclesiastical ballot in your prayers.
O God, we pray this week for all those who have been named as potential nominees for Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod. And, we pray for all pastors who will be named on the ecclesiastical ballot. Give each of them the gifts of wisdom and discernment. Guide us through the election process that your will is done through the working of your Holy Spirit. Throughout our assembly keep us united in Christ. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
+Bishop Abraham Allende