The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


November 5, 2009

A Reformation gift

Maybe it’s the vote in Maine or those #@*& Yankees winning AGAIN. But even more likely, it’s from the anxiety and sadness in this place where I spend my days, and from reading blogs, blog comments and too many stories about congregations — members and pastoral leaders — fighting about what to do with their money and their membership...

But when I came across David R. Weiss’s essay in yesterday’s Star Tribune, I felt as though someone had given me an early Christmas present. But it's really a Reformation gift. As a fellow journalist and friend pointed out, since the August Churchwide Assembly, the dissenters have been allowed to control the public discussions.

Weiss writes, “very few official Lutheran voices have dared to publicly celebrate the good news [CWA decisions] offer our gay and lesbian members.” It started when those gathered in a hushed room in the Minneapolis Convention Center weren’t allowed to celebrate, but the gag order seems to continue. “The most vocal Lutherans these days are threatening to take their wallets, their memberships and occasionally their entire congregations elsewhere,” Weiss observes.

Since he can’t post his theses to every Lutheran church door, Weiss, author of "To the Tune of a Welcoming God," finds his modern Castle Church door on the pages of the Star Tribune: 1. “We have not chosen to ignore sin.... In good Lutheran fashion we see sin as broken relationship, whether with God, our fellow humans or the world.” 2. “We have not rejected the Bible... In a very Lutheran way, we respect the Bible too much to think that it’s best understood by just reading the words off the page.” 3. “We have not forsaken the Lutheran confessions... To people dreadfully anxious about their salvation, Lutheran declared that our behavior–whether good or bad—had nothing to do with fixing our relationship with God. God fixes the relationship as gift.”

This has been my helping of hope for today. This, and of course, Bishop John Shelby Spong’s “Manifesto.”

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