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For you… for forgiveness of sins

5April2012

For better or for worse, I recently was interviewed for our local newspaper (the article itself is here).  Even though the article appeared in print the Tuesday of Holy Week, it wasn’t about Holy Week worship services. Instead, the article is about a local congregation that recently voted to welcome the LGBT community.

The congregation I now serve, Peace Lutheran Church, voted in May of 2011 to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and join the North American Lutheran Church.  What finally started the process for Peace was the ELCA’s decision in August ’09 to ordain persons who are in publicly accountable, life-long monogamous same-gender relationships.  Because another local congregation (First Presbyterian) has announced that they are going to follow a similar track, leaving their own denomination (PC-USA), Edmond Trinity Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) referenced both of us in their press release about their decision to welcome the LGBT community.

The words of Jesus in John’s Gospel are clanging in my head.  During the Last Supper, Jesus gave His disciples a commandment: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)  Later, in the 17th chapter, John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus prayed that His followers would be one, as He and the Father are one.

Both sides claim that they are doing the loving thing, and I don’t want to get into The Debate over The Issue.  Instead, I want to use this opportunity to show how poorly we, as Christian leaders and congregations, fulfill Christ’s commandments.  Whichever side is right on The Issue, I question whether either of us did a good job of showing Christ’s love for one another in the article.  Remember – the commandment was directed to His disciples; that they have love for one another.  And, even if somehow we could skirt around that commandment, I know that we absolutely did not live up to the desire of Jesus that we (His followers) would be one, as He and the Father are one.

So I will do one of the few things I can do tonight.  I will come to the table of the Lord.  I will partake in the Sacrament of the Altar.  I will receive the very body and blood of Jesus Christ.  Forgiveness will come to me because of what Jesus has done for me.  I will hear the words, “The body of Christ given for you” and “The blood of Christ shed for you” and I will cling to the promise of Christ that it is for the forgiveness of my sins.

Ultimately, that is all we have – and all we need.

KMF@CCD

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