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In his fascinating book, The Patient Ferment of the Church, the late Mennonite theologian Alan Kreider (who taught at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, IN) digs deeply into the life, theology, and practices of the church in the Roman Empire of the second and third centuries after the death and resurrection of Jesus to find clues as to why the church grew in times of significant challenge. Near the very center of the church’s teaching and practice of that time Kreider was surprised to discover patience.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. [Romans 16:3]

Before reading any further, I encourage you to open a Bible to Romans 16 and slowly, mindfully read the first sixteen verses. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

 

This year’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation is unlike most other previous commemorations. Many previous anniversaries were characterized by looking backward to celebrate and reassert what makes Lutherans and other Protestant traditions different from Roman Catholicism. This year Lutherans and Roman Catholics are looking back and looking forward together.

Racism – a mix of power, privilege, and prejudice – is sin, a violation of God’s intention for humanity. The resulting racial, ethnic, or cultural barriers deny the truth that all people are God’s creatures and, therefore, persons of dignity. Racism fractures and fragments both church and society. [The ELCA’s social statement, Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture].

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