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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Questions worth considering

Expectations, distinctions, joy, uncertainty all key

One of many joys of serving as presiding bishop is worshiping, preaching and engaging in conversations in ELCA congregations. Important questions often frame those rich discussions. I share some with you to invite your participation.

What do we expect of the Spirit? Often when preaching I ask people what they expected the Spirit would do today. Forgive sins? Give new hope? Raise the dead? Bring good news to those in poverty? Reconcile the alienated? Did they expect to be set free in Christ? To hear they are God's beloved? That 3,000 would be saved (as in Acts 2)? Did they expect to leave anointed with the Spirit to witness to Jesus, to serve all people, and strive for justice and peace?

What is distinctive about being Lutheran? Most often I hear "grace," "faith" and "the cross." Although not unique to Lutherans, these responses are at our center.

The grace of God's baptismal promise meets us anew each day. "You are my child. I will love you steadfastly and forgive you mercifully for Jesus' sake. You belong to the community of Christ's body, and I will raise you to new life."

Jesus' cross and resurrection center our worship, witness, proclamation and service. There we experience the depth of God's redeeming love, and all attempts to save ourselves and the world are laid down. There God sets us free in Christ for lives of faith, "a living, daring confidence in God's grace that frees us to serve everyone, suffer everything out of love and praise to God."


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