The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


We are people of the Light

Jesus leads the way

Last week’s newsletter reminded us that the season of Epiphany draws our attention to Jesus, the Light of the world. This week’s Gospel lesson (Luke 4:14-21) continues that theme, showing us how Jesus’ ministry would look. He would “bring good news to the poor”; “proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind”; “let the oppressed go free”; and “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And that would all be done with Jesus being “filled with the power of the Spirit.”

Jesus read the lessons in the temple, keeping the faith traditions. But he knew his ministry would involve more than reading and preaching. His ministry would take him out of the temple and into a hurting world.

We, too, bring the Light through both word and deed. We reveal Jesus in our lives and our vocations in our words and by our actions.

I’m reminded of an ELCA conference I attended in Berlin and Wittenberg, Germany, in November: “Mighty Fortresses and Mustard Seeds: Life in the Shadow of a Wall.” Several people told us stories about their lives in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, the Israeli barrier wall or the U.S.-Mexican border wall. We talked about physical and visible walls. And we discussed the internal and invisible ones we construct to keep people in and out.

In his presentation, ELCA pastor Javier (Jay) Alanis from Austin, Texas, said when we come up against walls, “the church is called to speak, to be a voice in the darkness.” Yes, it is. Surely, Jesus led the way there. To the people who sat in darkness, he came—the Savior of the world.

Another speaker, ELCA pastor Ann E. Helmke from San Antonio, Texas, invited us to go beyond words: “Action has to be part of the vision when we dialogue. Don’t just go home with this new vision after our dialogue ... but let’s build a home, build a different world together.

“The most subversive thing we can do is add more light.”

So we can. There are endless situations in our relationships, congregations, communities, country and world that need more light. What can we do in the face of Darfur, Sudan? The plight of Iraq? The more than 1 billion who live in extreme poverty? For those suffering in the oppression of sexual trafficking and slavery? For the world’s more than 110 million orphans? For the poor and the suffering right in our own backyards?

We aren’t without hope. We are people of the Light. We are people called to follow the example of Christ, who in this text shows us a model of ministry that calls us from our comfort zones—but who promises we will have the Spirit’s indwelling as we leave those comfortable places.

Go in peace. Serve the Lord.

This week's front page features:

The final goodbye: Death and taxes are constant, but funerals are changing. (Photo at right.)

Prayer list: It has an effect on me when I am open to its call.

Window celebrates God's breath.

Exit strategy: And you thought there was only one way to leave this life.

Also: Acting out of Acts 2.

Also: Life goes on ....

Also: A party?

Read these articles at our front page > > >

Discuss death and dying:

Join Melinda A. Quivik (right), assistant professor of practical theology-Christian assembly at the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia.

In preparation for her book A Christian Funeral: Witness to the Resurrection (Augsburg Fortress, 2005), Quivik studied the correspondence and preparation that shaped the Lutheran Book of Worship’s funeral rite.

The conversation begins today and runs through Jan. 23. Consider reading "The final goodbye" before joining in.

Join the discussion > > >

This week on our blog:

Amber Leberman suggests three ways you can stay connected to the larger church.

Kathleen Kastilahn (right) asks: "Why do we still have to focus on what women wear—or don’t wear?"

Julie Sevig writes about a workshop for home funerals.

Sonia Solomonson blogs about reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and the sexism, harassment and other forms of abuse to which women and girls are subjected.

Check out our blog (and leave a comment) > > >

Tell us! What is the most lasting or helpful thing you learned in seminary?

What is the most lasting or helpful thing you learned in seminary?

Please include your name, current congregation, seminary and professor/or class (if applicable)

Send your response by Feb. 2 to Julie Sevig.

Members: Respond online > > >

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February issue


Embracing diversity