Yesterday I said that the newly formed North American Lutheran Church (NALC) doesn’t bother me for two reasons:
1. The new church body doesn’t affect my ministry at all. It’s not even on peoples’ radar screens, and I have no real interest in putting it there.
2. God has not given up on the ELCIC.
Today, I’m going to talk about Number Two.
I’ve been distressed by some of the rhetoric from some of the NALC supporters and sympathizers who say that they have no hope for the ELCIC. Some have even gone so far as to say that the Holy Spirit has left our church. Such an assertion flirts dangerously with the unforgivable sin.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that the ELCIC has deviated from God’s will. Find me someone who hasn’t. Present to me someone who hasn’t sinned or continues to sin knowingly or unknowingly. Give me the phone number of someone who has found favour with God outside of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
To say that there is no hope for the ELCIC is to say that the Holy Spirit no longer the “Lord, the giver of life” who "calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes us holy.” It is to say that Jesus didn’t die for ALL sins, that we have to rid ourselves of sin in order to receive God’s continued favour, that there is no total forgiveness or renewal for those who are in Christ.
Personally, I see great hope for the ELCIC. I see God’s activity everywhere. Good Shepherd’s youth group just came back from CLAY, the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering in London. And they came back fired up in their faith. If these young people are our present and future, then our present and future is in excellent hands.
But I also have hope because I believe in a God who raised Jesus from the dead. I believe in a God who is still making all things new. I believe in a God whose kingdom of love, mercy, justice, compassion, and grace is growing all around us.
And God still calls us sinful ELCIC Lutherans into ministry to a suffering, broken, and sin-stained world. Not as those who have all the answers or are made of stronger spiritual substance. But as those beggars who know where to find the bread of life.
That’s why I have hope.