The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

The ELCE met together for the annual synodical convention and budget conference (to give the complete description) for the past two days. There is a special report avail-able so please make sure you get a copy and you can read about what happened. Ascension’s delegate to synod, Andy Burden, will also share his perspective after the service. This meeting – comprising delegates from all congregations – discusses and decides how we work together – in harmony, cooperatively, and yet with a freedom to do our own thing. In reflecting on what happened this year, one thing struck me.

Initially I thought of it as an omission, a missed opportunity but now I regard it as being somewhat healthy. The ELCE became an independent church in 1954. This means that we’ve just held our 60th ELCE synodical convention. And numbers with 0s tend to be regarded as special – just think of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012). And yet this number re-ceived no prominence and there was no looking back through the decades. The looking back was really only 1 year. There was more looking forward! It was almost as if we were saying that 60 isn’t ‘old’; that in terms of who we are as church, as God’s people walking together (which is what ‘synod’ means) we’ve only just begun!

When we did look back – as you do in reports and for planning – I felt that underlying the words and numbers was a real sense of thankfulness. The ELCE is very small and yet as a church body we accomplish the same sorts of things that much larger church bodies do. That means that the people are working, getting many things done and as report after report was heard, you can’t help being thankful for it all.

I feel the same as I return from leave. You have been served by God and cared for while I’ve been away and you have simply continued as a congregation because you saw what was needed and did it. And so I say ‘thank you’ to you and to God. Thankful-ness and gratitude are good for us to have for they remind us that God is active, work-ing in our lives, blessing and sustaining us. This is especially so in the Eucharist (which means ‘thanksgiving’) but also true as we reflect on our days, as we pray. It might be tough to see at times but it is always true that God is bringing good out of all situations and therefore we can give thanks in all circumstances.

I am thankful for my holiday but even as I had a wonderful time away, it is good to be back here at Ascension and in the ELCE.  — GS