What Happened at New England Synod Assembly?

Editor’s Note:  Lars Johanson submitted this report on the June 7-8 New England Synod Assembly.  The Rev. Leila Ortiz referred to in the closing paragraph was recently elected to  serve as Bishop of the Metro DC Synod of the ELCA at the Metro DC Synod Assembly held June 14-15.

Pastor Kyle Seibert, Rosemary Affeldt and I attended the NE Synod Assembly in Worcester, MA.  Over 500 men and women attended the two-day conference from congregations all over New England. One of the lasting impressions of the meeting was the number of women who hold leading positions within the synod and as pastors of various congregations. Many of them gave presentations and led devotions and worship.

A considerable amount of time was devoted to “church business” such as presentation of memorials and reports from Bishop Hazelwood and various components of the synod. I was very impressed with the four memorials that were approved and will be presented later this summer at the ELCA National Assembly. Two of the memorials dealt with the rights of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation and support of humanitarian aid to Palestinian hospitals. Another memorial called for an endorsement of the Poor People’s Campaign in order to encourage congregations and members to participate. The fourth memorial asked the ELCA to endorse the campaign and encourage all to participate where appropriate in organizing, advocacy, and actions.  These memorials clearly show the New England Synod’s commitment to issues of social justice, one example of God’s Word and our hands.

Another lasting impression was the topics covered by Bishop Hazelwood in his report. He reported on the four areas that have been the focus of his attention: Congregations, Spiritual Growth, Global Mission, and Finding and Funding Leaders.  It was very encouraging to hear that there were 35 new calls for pastors in the synod in the past year but very upsetting to hear that there are so many younger pastors who have substantial student loans. The bishop pointed out that the total debt is $1.75 million dollars. He encouraged all of us to participate in a campaign, Jubilee 2020, in order to help reduce this debt figure.  This is probably a subject that should be brought to the attention of OSLC’s church council and congregation.

In the area of global mission Bishop Hazelwood and others talked about the church’s activity in the Holy Land and Honduras and through groups such as Ascentria.  The latter gave a report on the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program that provides long-term foster care and other services. Once again I was impressed by our synod’s commitment to serve others.

The theme of the assembly was “What’s Your Story”. The keynote speaker was Margot Leitner, a storyteller and instructor.  She told various stories herself in the keynote address and workshop and left a lasting impression about the power of stories to develop bonds between strangers. She gave various examples of how each of us can communicate our experiences and passions to others.  These are good things to remember as we in OSLC try to know each other better and welcome visitors.

The assembly concluded with a moving worship service.  Rev. Leila Ortiz from the Washington DC Synod gave the sermon. Her background growing up in a Pentecostal church put an interesting light on her comments for a Pentecost service.

 

 

 

 

 

Readings and Psalm for Sunday, July 7, 2019, Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

God is the source of our nourishment. Our Lord’s invitation to “take and eat . . . take and drink” is a repeated one. In the holy Eucharist, in the word read and proclaimed, in the assembly of the people of God, the dominion of God has come near. Rejoice! Your name is written in heaven.

Readings and Psalm

Isaiah 66:10-14
Psalm 66:1-9
Galatians 6:1-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

First Reading: Isaiah 66:10-14

10Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her—
11that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious bosom.

12For thus says the Lord:
I will extend prosperity to her like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm,
and dandled on her knees.
13As a mother comforts her child,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

14You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bodies shall flourish like the grass;
and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants,
and his indignation is against his enemies.

Psalm: Psalm 66:1-9

1Be joyful in God, all you lands;
be joyful, all the earth.
2Sing the glory of God’s name;
sing the glory of God’s praise.
3Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.
4All the earth bows down before you,
sings to you, sings out your name.”
5Come now and see the works of God,
how awesome are God’s deeds toward all people.
6God turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot,
and there we rejoiced in God.
7Ruling forever in might, God keeps watch over the nations;
let no rebels exalt themselves.
8Bless our God, you peoples;
let the sound of praise be heard.
9Our God has kept us among the living
and has not allowed our feet to slip.

Second Reading: Galatians 6:1-16

1My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. 4All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. 5For all must carry their own loads.
6Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.
7Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
11See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! 12It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. 14May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

1After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ ”

16“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

17The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Readings for Sunday, June 30, 2019, Third Sunday after Pentecost

We have no good apart from God. That makes our Lord’s call to follow him an invitation to freedom. This is freedom to revel in the Spirit’s fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, and the like. This is the path of life.

Readings and Psalm

1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
Psalm 16
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21

15Then the Lord said to [Elijah,] “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.
19So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. 20He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” 21He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Psalm: Psalm 16

1Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my good above all other.”
2All my delight is in the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble among the people.
3But those who run after other gods
shall have their troubles multiplied.
4I will not pour out drink offerings to such gods,
never take their names upon my lips.
5O Lord, you are my portion and my cup;
it is you who uphold my lot.
6My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;
indeed, I have a rich inheritance.
7I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me night after night.
8I have set the Lord always before me;
because God is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
10For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see the pit.
11You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Second Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13-25

1For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

16Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

51When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village.
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Readings and Psalm for Sunday, June 23, 2019, Second Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday’s texts paint startling pictures of the horrific—the demonic—nature of sin. The church’s repeated celebration of the holy communion counters that tragic reality in a continued showing forth of the death of Jesus “until he comes.” It is a dramatic declaration of “how much God has done for you.”

First Reading: Isaiah 65:1-9

1I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,
to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that did not call on my name.
2I held out my hands all day long
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and offering incense on bricks;
4who sit inside tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine’s flesh,
with broth of abominable things in their vessels;
5who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all day long.
6See, it is written before me:
I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their laps
7their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they offered incense on the mountains
and reviled me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
full payment for their actions.
8Thus says the Lord:
As the wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, “Do not destroy it,
for there is a blessing in it,”
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
9I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah inheritors of my mountains;
my chosen shall inherit it,
and my servants shall settle there.

Psalm: Psalm 22:19-28

19But you, O Lord, be not far away;
O my help, hasten to my aid.
20Deliver me from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog.
21Save me from the lion’s mouth!
From the horns of wild bulls you have rescued me.
22I will declare your name to my people;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
23You who fear the Lord, give praise! All you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
Stand in awe of the Lord, all you offspring of Israel.
24For the Lord does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither is the Lord‘s face hidden from them;
but when they cry out, the Lord hears them.
25From you comes my praise in the great assembly;
I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the Lord.
26The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
Let those who seek the Lord give praise! May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
all the families of nations shall bow before God.
28For dominion belongs to the Lord,
who rules over the nations.

Second Reading: Galatians 3:23-29

23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Gospel: Luke 8:26-39

26Then [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Readings and Psalm for Sunday, June 16, 2019, The Holy Trinity and First Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

1Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
2On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.

22The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
23Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
26when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
27When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.”

Psalm: Psalm 8

1O Lord our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!—
2you whose glory is chanted above the heavens out of the mouths of infants and children;
you have set up a fortress against your enemies, to silence the foe and avenger.
3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
4what are mere mortals that you should be mindful of them,
human beings that you should care for them?
5Yet you have made them little less than divine;
with glory and hon or you crown them.
6You have made them rule over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet:
7all flocks and cattle,
even the wild beasts of the field,
8the birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
9O Lord our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5

1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Gospel: John 16:12-15

[Jesus said,] 12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

“Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow!” Bread for the World Offering of Letters

Our Savior Lutheran Church is a Covenant Church with the Bread for the World (BFW) movement. BFW currently is ecumenical in scope; but was started by a Lutheran Pastor in New York City, in the early 70s. BFW asks us to communicate with our legislators about hunger related issues throughout the year, but each year they focus on one particular issue, for an annual Offering of Letters

Reading the news, it is hard to imagine that progress has been made in reducing global poverty and hunger, but they have literally been cut, nearly in half over the past 30 years. In countries such as Ghana and Honduras, one of the effects of chronic malnutrition, developmental stunting, has been reduced by nearly 1/3rd over the past 10 years!! This has been accomplished by emphasizing good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a mother’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday.

But the work is not done, and we don’t want to lose the gains we have made, since worldwide nearly half of all the childhood deaths are linked to malnutrition

BFW_Better_Nutrition_Better_TomorrowThis year’s Bread for the World’s annual Offering of Letters is titled Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow!

We know what works, breastfeeding, improved access to nutritious foods, assuring adequate vitamins and minerals, clean water and sanitation.

When a country’s children survive and thrive, so too does the country’s economic outlook, this improved economic development

results in decreased poverty, and hunger; promotes political stability, decreases violence, and the need for migration.

We need to contact our Federal legislators, urging them to increase financial support for the global effort to reduce malnutrition by promoting global child nutrition programs. Personal letters to our legislators have been shown to be effective in getting Congress to act.  Here is a sample letter you can write to your Representative and your Senators. Please bring them to church on Sunday when we will offer them up at the Offertory.

2019 BFW Offering of Letters – Sample Letter