Saturday, August 22, 2009

Laying Aside

I was moved to tears by Bishop Mark Hanson's closing charge at the end of this afternoon's plenary session of the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA. Overcome by emotion himself, he pleaded that we in this church refrain from labeling each other; that rather we remain in conversation with those whom we may disagreee with, that we tell the story of what God in Christ Jesus has done.

The particular label Bp. Hanson referenced was fearful. After the decisions made this week at the assembly, there are those who are fearful of what this means for our church. With Bp. Hanson, I would call each of us to lay aside the labels: conservative, liberal, progressive, fearful, bold...whatever they may be that we so dismissively affix to ourselves and others. Once labeled, we don't have to listen to these people because we think we already know what they're going to say by virtue of the label we have classified them with.

For shame! Such diminishing of one another as God's children is sinful. It is also not helpful. This is the challenge before us:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1, The Message)

The NRSV translates it thus.

Let us lay aside the labels as the sin they are and keep our eyes on Jesus. As we were reminded yesterday by Bishop Hanson,

"We meet one another finally, not in our agreements or our disagreements, but at the foot of the cross -- where God is faithful, where Christ is present with us, and where, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are one in Christ."

We have good news to share!

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PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Labeling is one of the worst things we do to each other, and, perhaps we do it every day. I think it becomes sin in the way it divides people.

Ivy said...

I agree.

Tom said...

I too was deeply moved by Bp. Hanson's closing remarks. It was very profound. I think it is a charge that all Lutherans need to lead as we move past this CWA. He is truly the right person for the right job, a person I greatly admire.

Ivy said...

Thanks for dropping by Tom. Lord willing, we'll all keep listening and work together for God's glory. Peace.

Beth said...

I think the entire gathered Assembly was in tears with Bp. Hanson. It's going to be a rough ride, but we can't get rid of Jesus' abiding love--Good News!

Ivy said...

Amen to that Beth.

Steve Martin said...

It is a sad for the church when the culture determines the actions of the church rather than the Word of God.

The ELCA has damaged their congregations and the church at large.

Now, how in the world could any pastor in the ELCA tell two unmarried people who are living together and having sex that it is wrong?

They can't. And if that's ok, then what about this other sin, or that sin. They have thrown God's law right out the stained glass window and that is not a good thing.

Ivy said...

Steve I respect and understand your opinion, though we will have to agree to disagree. I love you brother and treasure our blogging relationship. Peace.

Steve Martin said...

I love you too, Ivy.