Once again Obie Holmen express what I have been feeling about the Post CWA09 schism in a vastly more eloquent manner than I could ever do. I hve been thinking a lot about his Dusting Your Feet Off post about asserting and standing by the decisions of the ELCA regardless of what other organizations (ie, CORE/NALC, etc may have.)

Like Obie, I don’t think we as a church body have anything to apologize for. Yes, this decision has been a lightning rod for many chosing to exit the ELCA. But let’s face it, for many, this was a good excuse to leave. If it weren’t this issue, it would have been another. I suspect the leadership of CORE/NALC was looking for any excuse to make a public exodus, and that the CWA decisions were a convenient vehicle.

That said, there is nothing to apologize for. The ELCA has chosen to cast a wider net instead of letting a man-made construct to define who is worthy of Christ’s all-loving redemption. It gives a voice to the often disinfranchised and proves that there is no one cookie cutter that produces rostered clergy.

So in the spirit of dusting off my feet after more than a year of local church politics, here is my contribution in the form of an open letter:

 

Dear Senior Pastor and Associate Pastor,

Now that the Little Church on the Edge of the Prairie and the Edge of the Prairie SAWC near the final steps of the separation process, I would like to thank you for the past year. I know a letter of thanks seems quite odd considering that we will never see eye-to-eye in this matter, but I would, never the less, like to thank you.

Thank you for helping me transform from an Armchair Lutheran to a pro-active member of my congregation. For the first 38 years of my life, I pictured my role in church to be something rather passive. Sunday was a routine with a lot of rote and automated demonstrations of faith. Get up, get the kids to Sunday School, go to worship, go home. Repeat on the next Sunday. Thank you for making me realize that going to Church is not enough. Thank you for making me realize that faith is process that is constantly evolving, that it is something that should never be taken for granted or considered de rigeuer. Thank you for letting me realize that I too can be a servent-leader in the Church and that my witness is something I want to share with others. Thank you for making me realize that being the spiritual head of a family is part of that journey of faith and that the actions I make regarding faith have a lasting, and hopefully positive, impact on my daughters. Thank you for helping me realize that God is still speaks to us but that I just needed to listen a little harder.

Thank you for encouraging me to read my Bible more. I’ll be the first to admit that I have read more scripture–and not just the over-sited cudgel verses, actual scripture–more in the past year than any time in my life. Thank you for making me realize that the Bible is an invitation to faith and not a weapon of faith. Thank you for helping me realize that when one asserts Biblical Authority it is more about asserting power over God than God asserting power over humanity. This has been a difficult concept for me to grasp and it has really helped shed a lot of the guilt that I brought from my Missouri Synod upbringing.

Thank you for bringing me closer to others in my congregation. It was the first time during my membership at your church where I have truly felt welcomed, that I was among kindred spirits. Thank you for making me become more publically confortable in my faith that I want to share it with my friends.

Thank you for illustrating that an open dialog and relationship with Christ will always be more important than material possessions, deeds to builidings or a popularity contest. Thank you for helping me realize that one does not need an overflowing offering plate to have a church that flourishes and is alive in the Spirit. Thank you for showing me that a church does not need to have four walls and a roof to be nurturing. Thank you for helping me understand that walking away with empty hands doesn’t really matter as long as your heart is full.

Thank you for bringing me closer to God. And I mean this with the utmost sincerity and gratitude.  There had been times in my life when I was very disillusioned with organized religion. A younger version of me would have given up and turned my back on it all, but now that I am approaching forty, I find myself in the closest relationship I have ever had with Christ. Sure, I have days when I question my faith. I think that is only human and am conforted that others struggle with this as well, but in the past year there is no doubt that my faith has strengthened in ways I have never imagined.

And it is because of this gratitude that our paths must divide. While I am thankful that your actions –though I will never agree with them–have brought me closer to Christ, I realize that I will not be following you in the direction you have guided Little Church on the Edge of the Prairie.  While I know that you are “seriously concerned about [my]faith” please be assured that my faith has never been stronger. I stand by the ELCA’s 2009 CWA statement on human sexuality and have made the very conscious realization that I am in the right place spiritually to pass on my faith to my daughters. I was baptised, confirmed and married as a Lutheran, and it is as an ELCA Lutheran where I will continue my journey with Christ.

Kindest regards,

K

Advertisements