Rev. Renee Splichal Larson
You may not know this, but I read all of the newsletters that come into the Synod office. I get to read great devotions written by pastors, deacons, synod authorized ministers, and council presidents. I see noisy offerings to support ministry and local non-profits. I see participation in caring for our neighbors around the world through Lutheran World Relief. I see creative new ideas for Christian education for all ages (“take out” Vacation Bible School is just one example). I notice idea after idea of how “God’s Work Our Hands” will be lived out in communities across our Synod during a global pandemic. People are worshipping in new ways via parking lots, computers, or separated by tape. Ministry is happening, my siblings in Christ, even and especially in this strange time.
Know what else I have seen in your newsletters? I see called pastors and deacons and church elected leaders doing the very best they can to make decisions that will preserve lives and sustain each congregation’s ministry. No matter what decisions are made, not everyone will be happy. My sister-in-law, who happens to be a physician, said to me, “Five years from now we will know what we should have done.” Nonetheless, there are decisions that have to be made in these days and they are far from easy. For sake of the Gospel, extend grace to your rostered ministers, your elected leaders, and one another.
As followers of Jesus, we are to model and live out what it means to be called into a community of faith that practices forgiveness and reconciliation daily. It is hard work to “live among God’s faithful people!” We are set apart to be different. We are to not let the divisiveness that currently plagues our country and world divide the body of Christ, of which we are all baptized into. We are knit together by Jesus, who is greater than political allegiances, and yes, even a pandemic.
We are to love and trust God above all else, and love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the faith we live out each and every day no matter what is going on in and around us. Some wisdom for us from Proverbs 3.5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”