Deacon’s Message (July/August 2017)
Grace and peace to you during this season of sun and fun and relaxation!
Early in June, over 500 Lutherans met together in Springfield for our annual New England Synod Assembly (think – “Diocesan Convention”). This is our time to be church together in person – to sing and pray and worship and do the business of the Synod and laugh and eat and hear new ideas and celebrate new ministries and reconnect with each other.
We had time during the Assembly to ask our Bishop, Jim Hazelwood, questions during a Town Hall forum. The first question asked about the future of the church – what were the Bishop’s expectations for Lutheran partnerships with other faith traditions? The Bishop was direct in his answer, stating that every Lutheran congregation in New England should be in some kind of dialogue with their local ecumenical partners, as the way we do church together continues to change over the next 5 years. I’m grateful to say that LCF and St. Andrew’s are ahead of the curve in this area!
Then, the Bishop challenged us to go deeper – to consider what is the unique contribution we, as Lutherans, have to offer our ecumenical partners? What is our unique voice and identity? What does it mean to be Lutheran?
For the Bishop – and for me – the answer to this question lies in understanding the unique theological perspective that the Lutheran movement (as our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton calls it) has to offer the church. Our theology is rooted in the Bible, in the living Word of God, in the Creeds of the church, and in the Lutheran confessional writings. We have a rich heritage and deep resources on which to proclaim our faith.
When we are clear about the theological foundation of our faith and our identity as Lutheran Christians – that we are justified by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ Jesus alone – then we are free to live in partnership – in mission and in ministry – with other Christians.
On the night that Jesus was arrested, he prayed for his disciples: “Holy Father…The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
The growing partnership between St. Andrew’s and LCF gives hope to the church and to the world that we may be one.
to God be the glory!