"Confidence Amid Change"

Confidence Amid Change

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith..." Hebrews 12:1-2a.

Our forebears in the faith recognized that they had no abiding city on earth. They looked forward to that city "whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10).

Like them, we can live with confidence amid a time of change. We can do so because we receive, each day, the gift of forgiveness and we welcome the daily disclosure of God's mercy.

I recall how important that confidence in God's continuing care was for me and others 30 years ago. On April 30, 1987, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was born. We were engaged in a time of massive transformation, bringing together the structures and programs of the three uniting churches. Elements from all the streams of North American Lutheran history were flowing together at that historic moment into a new church body.

Much has happened in the 30 years since the ELCA was formed. Our church, all other churches, and our whole society have undergone dramatic changes. Yet consistent throughout those years has been the guidance of God in calling each member, each congregation, each synod, and all our churchwide endeavors to the ministry of reconciliation and renewal.

As we embark on a time of discernment for the calling of a new synodical bishop, we keep our eyes focused on a promising horizon. At the same time, we rejoice in each present moment as God keeps calling us to witness and service.

The fall gatherings of conferences will offer opportunity for mutual learning as we anticipate the future of this synod. Those gatherings will be one of the engaging elements in our life together during these coming months. Crucial for our health in being the church together will be this: Not treating this "interim" time as a period of waiting and rest. Rather, the wholesome momentum reflected in this synod throughout the service of Bishop Stephen Talmage offers us guidance for moving into the future with strength, courage, and vision.

I ask you to embark on the journey with me -- a journey of discovery and abiding hope.

Your brother in Christ, The Rev. Lowell G. Almen Bishop (Interim)