It seems like maybe I need to do a little clarification on the purposes of this blog. As I say at the top, these are my personal and professional musings, of a person who happens to be very clearly in the minority in the ELCA.
Take a look at the blog - some of it's personal, some of it's professional. Some of it is critical of the ELCA, other posts, neutral or less so.
I want this to be a place where I can toss out my musings, as I say, and where others can engage the conversation - tell me I'm right, tell me I'm wrong, ask questions, offer your own thoughts, etc.
But: I don't want anyone to interpret my criticism of the ELCA as a lack of "loyalty", or my continued presence in a church body with which I frequently disagree as indication of my failure to have any personal integrity/listen to God/reject heretics/etc.
I am in the ELCA because it is where God has called me to be, and to stay, and to preach and teach and administer the sacraments. This is not a conclusion that I have come to lightly. Long before 2009, and in its wake, I thought and prayed long and hard about where God would have me serve and worship. I did the very - very - hard work of discerning this. I shed many, many tears. I read like crazy, I met with people of varying denominational and confessional stripes. I thought, cried, and prayed some more. And through it all, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, right behind where God was leading me.
And here I am. It is not a perfect place, but neither is it the maw of hell. Attempts to convince me otherwise, to try to convert me to...whatever, or to consign to perdition any and/or all who are in any way associated with the ELCA, are not helpful for any of us. A very, very wise pastor who is by no means unclear on the necessity of proclaiming the law in addition to the gospel, who I have yet to see sacrifice truth for popularity or convenience, once said, "We are called to speak the truth in love. If you cannot speak the truth in love, you are not ready to speak the truth."
I have many good friends, and plenty of acquaintances who have left the ELCA for a wide of variety of reasons. I do not in any way begrudge them this. The splintering of the Church is a tragedy, and all of us would do well to ponder and pray on that more often, but it also is what it is, and a good friend once reminded me that "it's not going to go back together the way it came apart".
If the ELCA is not the place where you can, in good conscience, do these things - and for many people it is not - then by all means, get out. Go in peace, + and go with God - wherever it is that he leads. And then let go. Let go of the hatred, the anger, the bitterness that
you have toward the ELCA or mainline Protestants or liberals or whoever. Remember the words of St. Paul, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put
away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you", and St. James, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,
slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the
righteousness of God." Let go.
And if the ELCA continues to be a place where you can worship, pray,
proclaim, and live in good conscience, then please stay. God is not yet
finished with "this church".
Each one of us needs to be where God calls us to be, for whatever his
purposes might be. We need to be in a place where we can worship in
peace and in good conscience. We need to be in a place where we can
focus on the main thing - the death and resurrection of Jesus as the only thing that has the power to fix this broken world, forgive sin, bring life out of death, and overcome the power of the devil. But we cannot do that if we consistently spend our days fixating on denominational affiliation - our own or anybody else's.
Faith, hope, and love - for God and neighbor: may these gifts of God be yours in the coming year, and wherever you live denominationally or confessionally, may you keep your eyes focused firmly on Christ.