These continue to be very difficult and challenging times for many of us, in the world and in our life together as church. We are still trying to figure out how to be God’s people in this new day. We can’t find solutions to the biggest challenges we face together.

For a week I have been surrounded by, accompanied by, welcomed and inspired by, Lutheran Christians from more than 90 countries, north and south, east and west. We sang together, broke bread and sipped wine together, debated with and challenged one another. We shared stories from our contexts, some painfully heartrending, others healing and heart-stirring. We engaged deep Bible study and heard startling, disturbing, and inspiring keynotes about crucial challenges that we face globally. We stammered through conversations in the hallways and over meals, overcoming language and cultural barriers to laugh and cry and chat about things deep and shallow and everything in between.

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.”

Where every member is a missionary, every pastor is a mission director, and every congregation is a mission center.