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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A matter of access

While the world waited and watched, 115 cardinals were huddled together this week to choose the next pope. But you know that, even if you're a Lutheran — unless you've been living under a rock.

Speculation and intrigue seemed to seep from all corners of the earth and all forms of media: Who would it be? The hard-line German? One of the Italian cardinals? The Nigerian? How about National Public Radio reporter Sylvia Poggioli's favorite (from Milan)? Open any recent newspaper and you'd see a photo lineup of the would-be popes. Read details about how they stand on issues, and whether their young age (60 or 62) would be a detriment.

Part of the story, it seems, were the steps taken to keep these proceedings secret and sacred. Elevator operators were sworn to secrecy and jamming devices under the Sistine Chapel floor defeated cell phone use and satellite eavesdropping. In this most ancient of gatherings, technology had been put in its place by tradition.

So we waited, trusting that the Spirit would blow through the chapel, in the 105 suites where the cardinals enjoyed four-star living, and in the Vatican gardens where they were allowed to stroll.

But let's fast-forward to Sunday, not because we'd know who the Holy Father would be by then, but because we need to be reminded of the holy priesthood amid all the hierarchy hoopla. On Sunday, you and I will be sitting in our own Sistine-sort-of chapel hearing these words: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:2-10).

Blow Spirit, blow. Not just in Rome, but among those of us still able to use our cell phones and laptops this week. Remind us in the hearing of this "gospel" that we are chosen, royal and holy. And that the future of the church is up to us too. It's quite a calling, but Mercy is on our side.

And by the way, my money was on the guy from Portugal. I just liked the way his bio read.


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