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And the wall..


I remember sitting in worship on the night the Berlin Wall came down.  We were gathered in  Christ Chapel on the campus of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary for our weekly Eucharist and the word began to make its way through the room.  For some there were tears, for others there were smiles, for many there was a feeling of disbelief as a generation of us had only known a divided Germany. A professor of mine cried and spoke a short prayer, “I never thought I’d see this day where Germany would work together – Thank you.”

I was young, I was naive, I was eager, I was bold, I was full of hope.  These past 20 years in ministry have aged me, made me wiser, more cautious, more scared, and less hopeful.  Back in that day I would venture that my faith was stronger too.  Ministry in an ever changing world has been challenging.  I have been reflecting on walls coming down, friendships renewed, and relationships restored these past couple of months (Thanks to a great retreat and a good therapist).

Friends, walls need to come down.  Let me share with you a conversation with a more seasoned colleague than myself.  We were discussing a restructure happening within our denomination.  He was frustrated and said, “Like most things – 5 years too late.”  I looked at him with an invitation to continue.  “Dave,” he said, “let’s be honest most of our congregations are struggling, burying more than we are baptizing, growing older by the minute, and many are in survival mode.  Congregations like yours and mine need to be thinking about breaking down walls with other Christians despite theological differences if ministry is going to continue in neighborhoods and communities.”

That statement has stuck with me.  I heard that as a clarion call, a word of hope, a word of prophecy.  I am blessed with colleagues in my area who want to work together, we will worship together on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, we share in leadership of Gentle Worship for Extraordinary Families hosted at our local college, we are looking to host a community wide VBS this summer and are even talking of printing others educational calendars in our bulletins to give congregation members multiple chances to deepen their faith.  Some are ecumenical partners with full communion agreements, but not all are of the same mind when it comes to theology – but we are of the same mind of the oldest creed, “Jesus is Lord.”

That’s what my friend was saying earlier about restructure, the restructure needs to happen with us knocking down walls.  Some of those walls may be around worship, some conversation surrounding crucial parts of our theological identity , some conversations surrounding new and innovative ways to do cooperative ministry.

The most exciting thing in this for me? People in the community who have been wounded by parochialism, who have witnessed ugly congregational fights, and listened to theological camps throw those that disagree with them under the ecclesial bus have come to those of us finding ways to partner and said, “I never thought I’d see congregations work together like this – thank you.”

Happy Thanksgiving ~ What walls do we need to knock down?




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