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For a week near the beginning of May, I have the honor and joy of representing the ELCA and the Indiana-Kentucky Synod as a voting member of the Twelfth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). At this Assembly the LWF will also commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in grand global fashion. The theme for this assembly is “Liberated by God’s Grace,” supported by three sub-themes: “Salvation—Not for Sale,” “Human Beings—Not for Sale,” and “Creation—Not for Sale.”

from the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“As the Conference of Bishops, we call our worshiping communities to pray for raising up leaders for this church. We ask that the petitions of every worship service include a plea that new lay leaders, deacons and pastors be identified, invited, encouraged and supported in responding to God’s call to ministry.” [adopted March 4, 2017]

Please read and share this special appeal from Bishop Gafkjen in its entirety.

Victory is ours! Victory is ours! Through God who loves us.

I am intrigued and inspired by the calendric fact that Easter is longer than Lent.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and concludes with Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). While we tend to focus on the 40 fasting days of Lent, when the Sundays along the way are included, Lent always includes exactly 46 calendar days.

Easter is not just one day, though we tend to think of it that way. It begins with Easter Sunday, of course, but it doesn’t end until Pentecost Sunday, ever and always exactly 50 days later.

50 is, of course, greater than 46. In other words, Easter always wins!

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…where there is hatred, let me sow love.

This prayer, attributed to the 12th/13th century Saint Francis of Assisi, came to mind when I heard about the spate of bomb threats to Jewish communities across the country last week. And now, this deplorable behavior has found its way to the territory of this synod: the Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis received a bomb threat on Monday, February 27. This behavior, like all hateful, threatening, or violent actions that target individuals, as well as a whole group of human beings, is simply wrong. It’s sinful. It needs to be called out, confronted, and corrected as much as it is in our power to do so. In doing so, we stand in solidarity and support with our Jewish sisters and brothers.

But that’s not enough.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor

(8th Commandment)

As we move through this 500th year since the beginning of the Reformation, many of us are renewing our acquaintance with various writings and resources from and about that medieval movement that changed the church and impacted the world. A great place to begin is with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. A great time to begin is the season of Lent.

Local faith communities might shape Wednesday worship around sections of the catechism or add a brief time for exploration and discussion of the catechism before or after worship. Families could briefly read and discuss parts of it once or twice a week before saying grace at dinner. Individuals might slowly read through, meditate on, and journal about the catechism in devotional time two or three times a week.

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