August 6, 2018

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.
[Ephesians 4:26-27]
The assigned lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, August 12, the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, are as follows:
As a society, we seem to be angry a lot these days. The firestorm that is our nation's political arena is anything but a model of harmony. And it seems to be escalating, not diminishing.
One can never estimate or know to what lengths anger will drive a person. Anger takes on many forms: jealousy, resentment, frustration, bitterness, sibling rivalry. We hear and read daily in the news of its violent and tragic results - bullying, verbal abuse against any number of ethnic groups, people or professions; road rage, beatings, murders, mass shootings - the list is endless.
Anger has its place, but it also has its limits. Anger is a mental health issue in that it is a symptom of various mental disorders. Yes, we will get angry, that is a natural reaction at the root of human emotion. It is not wrong to feel anger, any more than it is wrong to feel hunger. But anger is usually a second feeling, preceded by pain, hurt, grief or the like. And it is incumbent on us as human beings to determine first why it is that we are feeling anger.
Anger treated in any other way, uncontrolled or buried or allowed to build up or fester, is destructive both for the person and for others. Anger gets transferred to others, sometimes immediately, sometimes after long periods of build up until it is explosive and out of proportion. Or it gets swallowed, even forgotten, and we live in a state of self-directed anger, a recipe for depression and a form of self-harm.
Addressing immediate response to anger is also important, so that people can learn to take responsibility for how they respond to their feelings and not go against others. Obviously, anger is at the core of the myriad of mass shootings we've experienced in recent years.
These moments call us as individuals to explore our own feelings. It calls us as families, as communities and as congregations to have a hard conversation about the rise of hate, fear, discontent, and violence in our society.
The assigned Second Reading for this coming Sunday from the fourth chapter of Ephesians is one of my favorite passages in scripture. I use it often in pastoral counseling and have found it to be one of the most helpful, if not THE most helpful, in aiding people to discover why they are upset and how to deal with their torment or, more specifically, the cause of their anguish and get down to the core of their feelings.
Deal with anger: truthfully with ourselves and truthfully with others, but not destructively.
That's what Paul is talking about in this passage from Ephesians when he states, "do not let the sun go down on your anger." [4:26]
The issues of social injustice and evil in the world are worth getting angry about, but God's word calls us to do something constructive about those injustices. Anything else is not worth the bother.
We don't steal.
We let no evil talk come out of our mouths.   We watch what we say.
We are kind to one another. And so on Paul's list goes.
It may sounds to you like the Ten Commandments all over again. But what Paul is telling us is that the word of God should fill our lives with that which makes us grow in Christ.
Far too often our society fills our lives with junk food: reality TV, video games that extol violence, excesses of every kind be it work, sports, alcohol, drugs; everything that makes us act in ways that are contrary to a life in Christ.
But if we look beyond what we see daily, beyond reality into the realm of possibility, we see the Kingdom of God. We see a world where justice, peace and love reign. We see a life that is eternal and abundant.
We would do well to read this passage from Ephesians and make some effort to follow.
On  Saturday, August 11, from 10 a.m. to noon , at the Lutheran Center on Bailey Road (the Synod Office), we will hold a hearing for feedback on specific parts of the  Draft Social Statement on Women and Justice . Pastor Angel Jackson will be facilitating the hearing.
Receiving input from all spheres of the church is essential to create a strong social statement. Please consider ways of introducing this document to your congregation. Feedback is being gathered  through Sept. 30th, 2018 . The Social Statement will be presented for consideration by the Churchwide assembly in 2019. The document, information about the development of the social statements, biographies of the task force and resources for further study can be found on the
ELCA website.
Sunday, August 12, I will be with the people of God at Messiah Lutheran Church in Lyndhurst, to install their new pastor, the Rev. Paul Moody. Pastor Moody comes to Northeastern Ohio from Rochester, Minnesota. He is a native of Columbus, Ohio.
This week and always, may you proclaim the greatness of the Lord, and may we exalt God's name together. [1]
+Bishop Abraham Allende

[1] Adapted from Psalm 34:3