This month I want to reflect a bit upon what I heard at the Synod Assembly and also to let you know that both Jan S. and Gene H. also attended and have some reflective thoughts on their experiences at the assembly.
The Synod Assembly theme this year was “Living Lutheran: What does our story mean?” We spent much of the weekend exploring our story as Lutherans in the context of Scripture and how the activity of Christ orders and directs our lives. We considered what it means to be Lutheran and to not be ashamed of who we are as Christians because we have much to offer the world from our faith perspective. We are people who know that we are at the same time “Sinner” and “Saint”. Gene talks about the ‘happy exchange’ a bit in his reflection, watch for what that is. The happy exchange means that as Lutherans we know that we are sinners and that we mess up from time to time. But we also know that God loves us anyway and that is important news to help us live lives of joy!
Just so that you are aware, the attendance at the Assembly included: 108 congregations, 419 voting members, and 115 visitors and advisors, for a total attendance of 534. It was a joy to be part of ministry that is larger than our own congregation and to see the impact of what Lutherans do in the larger community and world. Our lead speakers were two professors, one from Luther Seminary and the other from Wartburg in Iowa; the Bishop of the Montana Synod, and two pastors from the Saint Paul Synod. They did a fabulous job reminding me of what it means to be Lutheran; which means to make decisions in life that grow out of my faith. A faith that comes from God who loves me no matter what I do. Our Bible Study centered on Acts 10 and the story of Peter and Cornelius, a Roman Solider. In verse 34 Peter proclaims, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality…and that everyone who believes in God receives forgiveness of sins through his (Jesus) name.” Professor Jacobson posed this question as a result of this story, “Is there ANY reason for us (you and me) to withhold God’s salvation (from someone else)? Another way of saying this, who are we to judge since we are sinners before God, we should love our neighbor and show them what this salvation means in our lives.
I want to end with one additional thought from Dr. Jacobson who said these words, “To be a Christian who lives life as a Lutheran is to not be seen as a liberal, a moderate, or a conservative, we are to first be seen as a friend and a neighbor. The love of God in Jesus is so powerful that I should be able to support anyone no matter whom.” That is a powerful witness of who God is and calls us to be in the world. This brings me to what I love about being Lutheran, “God didn’t make me any more special than he made you!” I hope I can live a life that witnesses to this and that it brings glory to God! – Thanks be to God! Amen.