Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hope Blooms in a Weary World

The network at the Internet café was down all week, except for a 2 hour window that I snuck through to offer an update on the goings-on of the convention.

But now the ELCIC Tenth Biennial Convention is over and I’m back in my office.

It was a good convention. Draining. No, exhausting. I didn’t realize just how worn out I was until I arrived at church this morning with VBS getting into full swing. I don’t have much energy for ANYTHING, but I have a stack of stuff waiting for me.

But now that the convention is over, it feels like a pressure valve has opened and now we can get back to our lives. The same-sex blessing issue was taking WAY too much of our time. I’m glad it’s over.

For me, the best part of the week was the re-connecting with folks. Hearing what they’ve been up to the past 2 or 3 years. People doing well; weddings. Ordinations. Babies.

People doing not so well. Divorce. Illness. Loneliness. Death.

Human stuff.

I came home filled with gratitude, gratitude because I have so many good friends, the opportunity to be part of their lives, and have them be part of mine. I have friends who strongly opposed the ssb resolution and friends that passionately supported it. But, still, friends.

It is clear that the ELCIC is a house divided; as the ssb resolution vote certainly confirms. It was like the two sides were speaking two different languages, two different understandings of gospel, two different ways of living faithfully.

I don't know if this issue can be resolved. The divide is too great.

The final night, I was feeling disconnected from the Church. I wasn’t planning to go to the hymn sing. But I decided I needed to re-connect, to feel like, despite our differences, differences deeper than what anyone imagined, we are still – somehow – one family, one body, one people. I don’t know how we are going to get over our differences or what such unity looks like in the midst of great disparity.

So, I sat at the back of the church, sung hymns through a constricted throat while reading music through tear-filled eyes. We have some great hymns in our church. Wonderful words of deep faith and songs of profound hope. I wondered how we could live up to the declarations we were making through song. I wondered if we ever could be the people we confess we are – loving, compassionate, faithful.

But then I thought that - maybe - being a Christian, following Jesus in the way of the cross, is not just something that we are, but also something we become through the refining fire of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to listen to the Spirit and to the world. To not run away when the fire starts to burn. To know that the way of the cross is also the path that leads to freedom and new life. The cross leads to resurrection.

So I left the convention hopeful for our church. That, somehow, our divisions will heal. That we will be united in our proclamation and our mission.

I don’t know how all this will happen. But I trust God’s promises to bring hope to a weary world.


Martin said...

Just browsing and I saw Martin Luther ... caught my attention. I am at a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod seminary at the moment.

I know we are not in fellowship with you. At least I assume so because of the ELCA link.

Kevin said...

Correct. I'm part of the ELCIC. The Canadian equivilent of the LCMS is the Lutheran Church - Canada (LC-C).

What seminary are you at? My father-in-law (an LC-C pastor) went to St. Louis.


Tom in Ontario said...

It was good to see you again. I know just what you mean. It was so tense that I didn't get much enjoyment out of the whole time there. Except for catching up with some people I hadn't seen in a long time and the hymn festival the whole thing seemed a downer. Even the opening and closing services of Holy Communion seemed over-done and over-long, and the photographer jumping around and snapping pictures of everything in sight at those services was annoying as heck. I told them so in my evaluation.

I also think this same-sex stuff has tied us up and kept us from some of the real work of ministry in the wider church. I voted yes and I can see the point of those who consider this a justice issue and don't want to let it go, but... I wish we could just let it go.

Glad I found your blog. I sometimes think of starting my own but haven't got a round tuit.