Friday, March 04, 2016

Psalm 32

Joshua 4:14-24

2 Corinthians 5:6-15

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

[2 Corinthians 5:13-15 New International Version]

I am going a little bit off the rails today and attempt to reflect on the daily readings in so far as they pertain to my “real time” situation. I am at the Conference of Bishops in Chicago, where for the next five days we will drink from the proverbial fire hose, as we discuss the future of our church and what God is calling this church to be.

Opening Eucharist at the 2016 Spring Conference of Bishops -- Photo by Bishop Ray Tiemann, Southwestern Texas Synod

Opening Eucharist at the 2016 Spring Conference of Bishops — Photo by Bishop Ray Tiemann, Southwestern Texas Synod

What is God calling this church to be?

As I’ve stated often, in my sermons and elsewhere, that is a core question of our ministry. In my time as Bishop, I have asked congregations to wrestle with that question, as I did with my own congregation during my time as parish pastor. We, as a synod staff, spend a portion of our time in our meetings discussing the future of the ministry on our territory. And now, though not for the first time, the bishops, as a body, will come to grips with this fundamental task.

What I think is different this time, besides the fact that I am a part of it, is that there is a sense of urgency about this encounter. Notice I said “urgency”, not “panic.” There is a difference. I have confidence that our Presiding Bishop is asking us to approach this exercise with an intentionality that allows us to move forward in faith, not in fear; and discern with hope, not with anxiety.

And that is why I was drawn to the three verses from 2 Corinthians cited above.

We are called to proclaim Christ crucified, which frees us from the power of sin, death, and the devil. Christ’s love compels us to be Christ for others, not to focus on ourselves. It frees us as a church, to be a beacon of hope for the hopeless, an advocate for the oppressed, and a voice for the marginalized.

I am happy to be here, as I heard several of my colleagues say to me yesterday. Initially I was unconvinced, but as the day went on I became more persuaded that the Holy Spirit was in this place, and these next five days will be exhausting but at the same time, exhilarating.  

Be aware that I may not post every day during this conference, but know that I am thinking of you, faithful readers; that God is with us and nothing is impossible with God.

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