Author Topic: Tuesday worship and Bible study  (Read 728 times)

Richard Johnson

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Tuesday worship and Bible study
« on: August 06, 2019, 03:23:37 PM »
We finally got to worship, nearly 30 minutes late. This was a bilingual service, Spanish and English (and something else thrown in that I didn't recognize as either language). The sermon was by a deaconess, the text the resurrection story in Luke. It was not bad, but a lot of talk about the usual political stuff.

In a nice gesture, the Bible study after lunch each day is being led by a representative of one of our full communion partner churches. Nice in theory, anyway. Today the teacher is the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, an Episcopal priest, "author and popular speaker known for fueling radical welcome across the ecumenical spectrum." Her "text" is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. Hmm . . .  not an auspicious introduction, IMO. So far, though, her presentation is OK. She is engaging, lively. Attendance is very poor, due, I'm sure in part, to being so far behind in the schedule.

A couple of side notes. I'm not sure it as QUITE as cold here in the convention center as Paul Sauer described at the LCMS convention, but I am glad I stuck a sweater in my suitcase at the last minute. Also, here's the law of unintended consequences. Some members apparently complained about the "waste" involved in the paper cups put out for coffee, and since part of the swag given to CWA members is a promotional thermal cup, the request was made that the paper cups be eliminated. So they were. Only problem is, it's really inhospitable to all the staff, visitors, media, military chaplains, and others who don't get the swag bag and don't have a promotional thermal cup. Not good when we're talking about radical welcome, don't you think?  I remembered to stick a paper cup from my hotel room in my backpack this morning. But this afternoon, I see the paper cups have returned, at least in the plenary hall (though not in the dining room for lunch).

Now this is interesting. She's told us about how she was baptized at an ELCA church, the first congregation she found that would welcome her, an African American woman, without judgment or suspicion. But now we're hearing how she ended up an Episcopalian. It was because she realized that the ELCA was really, in spite of that "welcome," really white, and not very interested in her perspective as an African American. "Do they even want us?" "The welcome was kind, warm, genuine, but not radical for black folk and people of color," gays and Lesbians etc. Because of this, "When God's call to me could no longer be ignored, it was clear I could not pursue it in the ELCA."

"You are not the same church today you were 20 years ago . . . You've opened the doors to LGBTQ Christians . . . You've given a new welcome to African Americans . . . Some may blame your decline on prophetic moves like these; God knows we hear that in the Episcopal church. But thank you for taking risks for the gospel. . . . Many of us are waiting for a church that will preach the gospel that aligns with what we have seen and heard of Jesus Christ.There are wanderers who are waiting for us to get radical, to speak truth to the powers of this land, especially when those powers are using a cross to justify dehumanizing the family of God." "Why shouldn't the ELCA practice radical evangelism just like Philip?"

The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS