Posted by Ascension

My devotional thought at the beginning of the ELCE’s Discussion Day yesterday.
1
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ. 2

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which
we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our

sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endur-
ance, 4

and endurance produces character, and char-
acter produces hope, 5

and hope does not put us to
shame, because God’s love has been poured into our
hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to
us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)

I’m not sure how things come to mind and get associ-
ated together. Unproven but not less real is saying

that the Holy Spirit is at work. Perhaps it is an associ-
ation of similar type of events or similar comments or

what I’ve been reading lately. I have noticed that, over
these past few weeks, I have heard from people – whose comments were unsolicited – or
read about what the differences are between Christian and non Christian funerals. I’ve read
and people have told me that the difference is stark – as one funeral tries to encourage you
to ‘remember well’ the deceased under the supreme power of death while the other funeral
proclaims to you the confidence that in Christ death’s power has been defeated and thus we
grieve – and remember accurately, by the way, though let us always speak well of the living
and the dead – but we grieve with hope. St Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, that if there
is a consequence of the life of faith, if there is an attitude in the struggle of faith and the ups
and downs of life, then it simply has to be hope. Why? Christmas told us that we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is Immanuel here to give us life and that life
can be lived with hope.
I have heard numerous views about our restructure – clear views about what people want in

specifics, clear views about what people want in general who don’t overly care about specif-
ics, and clear views about how long this process is taking. Behind all the views remains a

love for their ‘part’ of the ELCE and the ELCE itself. What inspires everyone, I think, is the
hope that we stay together. We are one in Christ and we are one in Word and Sacrament.

The length of this process is in part because people care deeply about each other in the EL-
CE and want to stay together in a restructure that is ‘more loose’ with congregations, the EL-
CE itself, and auxiliaries becoming separate legal entities. So we feel the importance of

‘getting things right’ for our grandchildren and the ELCE of the late 21st Century.

With change can come loss and with loss can come grief and in
Christ, we always have hope that from this process – and discussion
today – hearing each other, speaking our truth in love – will emerge
insights that will help us go forward and we will be better for it. Let us
go into today – and indeed every day – with hope because God’s
love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who
has been given to us.

GS