Tree of Life

Thank you…Thank you to all of the congregations, pastors, deacons and members of New England Synod congregations who addressed the tragedy in Pittsburgh, PA. Through your prayers, or homilies, or projects, or writings, I have heard from many of your valiant efforts.

This is what makes the Lutheran movement in New England stronger. It’s that we have built into our DNA a desire to be people of faith, who are engaged in our neighborhood, aware that the gospel is not a private matter but a matter of public engagement.

Lutherans have some historical reasons for embarrassment around our relations with the Jewish community. We addressed these in 1994, with our public statement regarding Lutheran-Jewish relations. See here. In recent years, we in New England have struggled with the dynamic of supporting our companion church in the ELCJHL (The Lutheran Church in the Holy Land), and challenging the government of Israel to honor it’s commitment to human rights and full democratic participation.

Yet, these have been points in a on going relationship, where two bodies are working through our relations. Just like a couple who have tensions in their marriage - they are still married. We are still married.

On Sunday I acknowledged these tensions and our desire to strengthen our relations when I went to Boston to be a part of the memorial honor the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. The response was words of appreciation for being in this on going relationship. I also brought the prayers of all New England Lutherans to that gathering. I know many of you attended other events, and provided other vehicles of support. Thank you.

We live in a time of increasing violence. It is often spurned on by those who seem unable to respond from a place of moral courage, or those who seek to use division as a way to acquire influence or power…sometimes both.

As I said to the good people of First Lutheran in Malden, MA on Sunday morning…There is something in the human soul that seeks division and results in hatred. Yet, there is also something that seeks reconciliation, forgiveness and grace. Thanks be to God, that Jesus is all about Grace.

Not a cheap grace, but a costly grace that calls us forward, saints and sinners that we are, to be people who embody what is good, and hopeful…so that the world may know Peace.