It was my day off, about three weeks into vicarage in Boca Raton, FL…The wife was at work, and I was wasting the first half of my day (until she got home), and how was I wasting my time on this particular day? Why, watching the ELCA National Convention, of course. Facebook just reminded me of a post I made two years ago, referring to the decision to support homosexual pastors who are in monogamous relationships within the ELCA. This is one of several decisions that have come from the largest Lutheran church-body in the United States. It should come as very little surprise, since the ELCA has been moving in this direction since it’s inception several decades ago.
I bring this up because I am now a parish pastor at an LC-MS congregation, and there is an ELCA congregation several miles from us that has split at the seams. My initial reaction to the situation 24 short months ago was shock, frustration, and confusion. I couldn’t understand how this sort of thing could happen within a church that has a Bible in its pews…now, those emotions have subsided, but have been replaced with deep compassion for these hurting members; I’ve been moved to tears when I sit across from people who have been lifelong members of a church that they no longer recognize. “Pastor, I don’t know what happened to my church,” is a phrase I’ve heard numerous times as I’ve watched a box of kleenex dwindle sheet by sheet. These people are hurt and confused, and it’s been etched onto my prayer list since I’ve been here.
I bring all of this up because I’m praying about it right now. It’s weighing on my heart. I never really understood that expression until I became a pastor. I see these people who are looking for a church to call their own, but they’ve always been told that churches like mine are intolerant and stuffy, and yet they’re here. It’s been an interesting two years…
What do the next two hold?