The Epistle: Aug. 7, 2019
'Do not be afraid ...'
What a horrific weekend that was. The massacre carried out a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, by a white supremacist and the hate of an unknown origin unleashed at entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio.
Kyrie, eleison. Lord, have mercy.
This Sunday we'll hear a Gospel reading that begins with the words, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." The same passage counsels us that "... where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit ...."
How do we live in this persistent climate of hatred and violence that threatens to choke the hope out of us? Let me point to a few indications that God is still with us:
Last Saturday, thanks to the hard work, generosity and love of many volunteers, we provided free clothing and household goods to dozens of families in need, many of them immigrants and people of color. And it looks like that effort might turn into the establishment of a Community Clothing Closet based at St. Paul's.
Planning is underway for a Vigil Against Violence at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4, possibly beginning at St. Paul's and ending at Christ Episcopal Church. Put it on your calendars. The idea came up at lunch among pastors of St. Paul's, Christ Episcopal and St. John's United Church of Christ. We hope that it becomes an interfaith event and a public witness that God's love still shines in the darkness that seems to be enveloping us.
Some amazing Spirit-filled things are happening in Milwaukee this week as our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), meets for its triennial churchwide assembly. Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was re-elected to a six-year term on Tuesday. Later that day, the church formally apologized to people of African descent as a first step toward healing the racial divide that plagues the church and our culture. Here is a clip from that portion of the assembly. It lasts 10 to 15 minutes. If you're looking for hope, it's worth watching every minute.
Here are a couple of other links related to the Apology and the assembly overall:
Text and explanation of the history and development of the Declaration to People of African Descent from the ELCA's website.
Website of the African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA).
Story from Religion News Service about the ELCA Assembly.
In the pastor's response to the Apology in the video, he quotes a passage from Isaiah that you've heard me quote in worship before and that I read at the opening of our Mission Team meeting last month. It is a powerful passage that calls us to healing and repair of relationships and offers us hope.
God's peace -- and joy!
Worships Assistants serve on Sundays and special services as the singer of the Kyrie and/or reading Bible passages and the prayers of the church. Any confirmed member of our congregation may serve in this role, and training is available. Contact Becky Ingram if you are interested in this ministry.
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