The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Different shoes walking together faithfully

Hurriedly I dressed in comfortable clothes for a day at the Churchwide Assembly that promised to be full of debate and decision-making. I joined friends for a quick breakfast in the Hilton Hotel restaurant in downtown Minneapolis and briskly walked through the skyway to the Convention Center. I took my place on the plenary floor among the other 21 voting members of our South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. The morning agenda included greetings and reports. The afternoon would be focused on the human sexuality social statement and the recommendation on ministry policies. It was a day for which I had prepared in mind and spirit for years, a day for which I had prayed. I faced this day with optimism that the ELCA would adopt a more open policy to the homosexual community.

During a restroom break in the morning, I looked at my feet and saw for the first time that I was wearing two different shoes: both brown—but one a sandal and one a Croc. I was horrified and embarrassed at my discovery, stating aloud, "Oh, no! How could this happen?!"

No, it wasn't dark in my hotel room. No, the shoes obviously didn't feel different enough to notice earlier. But, since there was little or no wiggle-room in our tight agenda, I resigned myself to wearing these shoes all day ... with no one commenting or daring to comment on my strange footwear. When I returned to my table-mates, I asked a dear friend/fellow voting member to take a look at my feet. In disbelief and astonishment she said, "Solveig, how could that have happened?" Certainly not by design.

Quickly I replied that I felt there perhaps was a story or parable in the oddity. It's this: Two feet clad so differently, seemingly comfortable, not even limping—and yet the two together are carrying a body. So perhaps it is with the church as we see in this assembly: Two different expressions with equal footing carrying the body of Christ.

If we look down at our feet, we surely see differences. Even the stones, the uneven ground, become boulders or stumbling blocks, perhaps. Focused on feet, we will miss seeing the other travelers alongside or those whom we may encounter in ventures yet unknown. Our posture will be that of one bent over, diminished, seeing only feet. But we won't see the cross-ways of Jesus, who calls us to extend our arms in grace-filled embrace and in loving service, calling us to see in one another the face of Christ, with a heart of deep compassion and peacefulness. As we were reminded during the week of the assembly, "the mission of Jesus Christ has this church."

Help us, dear God, to journey faithfully together as sojourners of your love and grace.


This week's front page features:Oct cover 1

Forgiveness: (right) In Christian life, it's not optional but essential.

What is life for?: For Luther, it's freedom to love and serve. 

Conversing in German: 'I swore I would never speak German again.' 

I see me: And saint and sinner—and Christ. 

Also: ‘Awake' to hard rock.

AlsoNIV to be updated.

Also: The ELCA call process.


Deadline extended: Bible verses that made a difference

What Bible verse made a difference in your life and why?

Please explain in 250 words or less. Include your name; the Scripture
(book, chapter and verse); your congregation (provide town and state);
and your e-mail address or phone number.

Send to: The Lutheran magazine, attn: Elizabeth Hunter, 8765 W. Higgins
Rd., Chicago, IL 60631; e-mail: elizabeth.hunter@thelutheran.org.

Deadline: Sept. 29


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February issue


Embracing diversity