At our staff meeting today Pastor Mark read a note to us that came from the Synod. It announced to our church that I have officially been given the blessing/permission of the bishop to preside over communion and all things sacramental at Grace. During my candidacy committee meeting last week one of the panel members called this getting “bish’d in.”
At this point all of my evangelical and non-liturgical friends are scratching their heads thinking, “huh?” I know, it’s a long way from Central Christian in Vegas, and quite a bit different from sitting around in our living room at Hart Haus proclaiming that Jesus is the poppy seed muffin of Life. (quick explanation: our communion was the meal we shared together. We would break whatever bread there was for the meal to symbolize the body of Christ.)
My friend Mark Scandrette commented in response to my Christmas Letter and said, “Lutheran, huh? Way to contexualize!” I figure a denomination that can ordain Nadia Bolz-Weber is a group that I can hang with!
Seriously, this is a big step for me. It’s good and it’s — to be honest — really scary. I am drawn to the ELCA for multiple reasons. First, I’ve tried doing ministry on my own, and it’s not easy or fun. As much as I would like to think of myself as a courageous entrepreneurial spirit that can take down Goliath on my own…I’m not and I can’t. I really need to be part of something much bigger than me. I need to know that there are people wiser, deeper, and more in tune with God than me that I can lean on when times get tough.
Secondly, I like the fact that the Lutheran tradition is pre-American. It is an immigrant mentality. I have grown tired of the radically individualized American Spirituality and like the idea that I am entering into a spiritual flow that started before the native Americans were infected with the pox.
Third, I love the fact that the ELCA is courageous enough to embrace issues like human sexuality head on and has a progressive theology that can hold on to it’s deep heritage but still move forward into the ever-unfolding future. This taps into an Ancient/Future rhythm that seems to be in sync with the rhythm and flow of the Scriptural Story. It is not a theological box into which I am trying to cram God. It is a theological heritage and sacramental sensitivity that moors us in tradition and continually expands us into an ever-growing relationship with the infinite creator.
Finally, I believe God has led me here. Many times I stop and think, “really?” Two years ago I would have never dreamed that I would be in this place. But the hand of God has undeniably brought me to this place in the journey.
So, now I get to serve my spiritual community in a new way. I get to be a conduit of God’s Grace as we gather around the table. Plus, I get to serve my senior pastor and friend by allowing Pastor Mark to take a weekend off now and then! That’s a win/win.