June 10, 2009
Today I'll be in Phoenix setting up a display for The Lutheran , The Little Lutheran and The Little Christian at the Grand Canyon Synod Assembly , which begins Thursday. I am looking forward to meeting more of God's good people in that part of ELCA-land. The assembly theme is, "Reaching the Lost, the Least, the Last and the Little." I am really anxious to hear all the ways that theme will get unpacked. I know I'll once again hear about amazing ministries synodwide and in congregations. I'll talk to ELCA members with their own amazing life stories. And I'll return with lots of ideas for stories for our magazines.
These synod assemblies each have a flavor of their own. But they always mean great visits with the people who fill ELCA pews on Sundays. They mean good music, great worship, inspiring stories told. I am sure I'll return energized just as I did from the La Crosse Area Synod Assembly two weeks ago—and a month before that, the Northeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly .
One of the things I notice this year is that our difficult conversations as a church are becoming more respectful. They're no less difficult. We still find people across a continuum on matters of human sexuality, for example, including several at the far ends of the spectrum. But we can talk without demonizing and condemning. That is no small thing. When we see what can happen when firmly held beliefs cause us to see ourselves as righteous and justified and those with different beliefs as unChristian or worse, we must celebrate the fact that we can talk respectfully. The murder on Pentecost Sunday of Dr. George Tiller was just one example of an inabiity to have conversation.
I am grateful to be part of a church where the gray areas of life don't lead us to desperate actions such as what happened in Wichita. I'm grateful that we really can talk openly and honestly.