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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Called into one body

Assembly decision demands time together

This column is based on Hanson’s remarks to the Churchwide Assembly after the ministry policies vote.

I have been thinking about my 23 years as a parish pastor and how differently I would go into various contexts. Gathering with a family or people who had just experienced loss, or who perhaps were wondering if they still belonged, or felt deeply that ones to whom they belong had been severed from them, I would probably turn to these words:

“Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? ... For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:34-35, 38-39).

If I were going into a family, group or community that had always wondered if they belonged and suddenly now had received a clear affirmation that they did and the dividing walls and feelings of separation seem to have dropped away — that would be very different. I would probably read these words:

“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. ... In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God” (Ephesians 2:13-14, 21-22).


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