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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Blessings or privileges?

Correcting our semantics is a theological opportunity

A distant voice of alarm called out as I read the snazzy postcard I received in the mail from a local church. "Come and See Our Newly Renovated Community Center!" it read. A glamorous picture of the remodeled and expanded church building glossed the center of the card. The closing line read: "God has richly blessed us!"

The large congregation was in a middle-class area. Undoubtedly, their economic affluence had helped make the building project a reality during these difficult economic times.

I studied the card for a moment and set it aside, but hours later that voice persisted. "What is it?" I thought.

Download a study guide for this article—free Another voice came to mind. It was that of my friend, Rubi, a social worker and member of a Lutheran congregation. "We are blessed!" I could hear her say. "We have a strong community, beautiful children and the sun is shining on us today!"

Her church is of modest means. No doubt the congregation that sent the postcard is blessed, but is their new building a sign of God's blessing? What about churches in more modest neighborhoods? Are less wealthy congregations somehow less blessed?


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July issue

JULY issue:

Economic inequality

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