In Luke’s Christmas story, the angel announces
to the shepherds that God is about to fulfill the promise to be a
living and redeeming God by entering into the depths of human life and
becoming one with us in Jesus Christ. But the shepherds were not ready
to receive the radical newness of God’s promise until they were first
told: “Do not be afraid.”
The ELCA is committed to being the church where people speak the faith, live the faith and worship in the faith. Given the angel’s reassurance and the joyful news that God is with us, I am haunted by the recent reports that the average worship attendance and membership in many congregations of this church continues to decline. Less than 30 percent of ELCA members regularly worship. Adult baptisms are few in number. Members become inactive and drift away. Visitors go unnoticed and do not return.
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