One Lutheran's Thoughts

Live and grow, change, reform...well, this blog used to be my 'primary' space, but not any more. This is now the online 'home' of my poetic ramblings and musings. Sometimes there is a faith/theological hue, while others not so much. Check out the pictures. Remember - literacy is visual too!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Random quotes and reflections

"Karl Barth observes, because Mary represents humanity to which the miracl of God happens, the grace of God that encounters her constitutes the focus of doctrinal attention, not Mary herself." - Gaventa, Beverly Roberts * Rigby, Cynthia L. "Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary." 2002.

Bishop Mark Hansen at the recent 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly:

"...there's no other way to be Lutheran than to be evangelical."

"LSA touches 1 in 55 families in this country." (LSA - Lutheran Services in America.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

ELCA 9th Churchwide Assembly - Day 6 Reflections

This is my last day at the assembly, as I pack up and prepare to take off for internship on Sunday!

I am tired. I am overwhelmed. But most of all I am thankful for this experience. I have learned so much about the ELCA as the larger church and the involvement and interaction of the individual congregations, synods and regions.

The major issue being debated just prior to my leaving was the Palestinian/Israel motion which calls the church to stand with the LWF in the No More Walls peace movement and to continue our support for the Lutheran Church in Palestine and the Holy Land. As I listened to parts of this debate (I left prior to its completion) I was shocked at some of the things I was hearing. There were folks that were saying that the walls were needed for containment of the Palestinians - and that we should support this. I was shocked, for these folks were asking for the Palestinians to be 'caged in' like animals, as though the Israeli's are innocent in all the blood-shed and struggle. There is so much hurt and pain in the area - we need to stand with all those in pain and work for peace for everyone in the region! I learned later that this motion passed, and that the motion is located on the ELCA website Click here!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

ELCA 9th Churchwide Assembly - Day 5 Reflections

We are both sinner and saint - regardless of what side of the issue we fall. The gentleman who belly-ached like a three year-old when time ran out for him to take his turn at the mic stood up today and declared that he was indeed out of order and that he sought forgiveness of this. He is a man of integrity and I am thankful that he is here as a voting member of this assembly.

And so the voting around the three sexuality issues begins. By 9:15, following a brief for/against discussion, the CWA voted to approve issue one stating basically that this is not a church-dividing issue.

Issue two had more debate and after several alternative ammendments were defeated, the final approved and adopted ammendment simply changed the words, " provide pastoral care for people in same-sex relationships" to " provide pastoral care for all people." This passed on a simply majority.

Then issue three, certainly the most controversial. This was debated and several alternative ammendments were put forth (all of which failed) from allowing for the full inclusion (ordination, consecration and commissioning) of any practicing gay/lesbian (GLBT) persons; to who would monitor this 'special ordination' - from the Church Council to the Presiding Bish... All of these were defeated, and the motion that carried simply stated that this church would continue to uphold the Visions and Expectations document for all of its candidates and rostered people. Therefore no change in policy.

What was most disturbing was the action of the Goodsoil group. At the beginning of issue two I noted a significantly larger group of these silent protestors on either side of the conference hall. Then when issue three was called to the floor, they broke through the visitor barriers and proceeded to walk to the front of the hall, directly in front of the stage where the presiding bishop stood. All who were protesting wore a stole - but no rainbow sash anymore. There was murmuring and some limited shouting in the hall, but the bishop called for silence. Then the bishop informed the group that they were out of order and violating the rules of the assembly, and asked them to return to the visitor section. Over the next 10 or so minutes this group did not move, several on the floor called for personal privelage and spoke about the group (either calling them on their violation or asking the house to simply allow their silent protest and to take from that the importance of the issue.) The bish. spoke to this and made a motion to simply continue on with the business of the day, and not to allow others to detract from the important business of the day. It looked like a gentleman from WA was going to move to have them forcibly removed, but the bish.'s motion passed and so debate, and voting continued. This group remained upfront passed the time when the assembly adjourned.

I think this action hurt this group and any possibility for changes in policy (although that would still have been slim) at this point. I personally was offended as they simply showed no respect for the assembly or the work of this church. I wonder how many who sit/sat on the fence on this issue voted down issue three simply because they thought, "Well, if they break the simple rules here, what else will they do?" So I was appalled and insulted.

I learned later that CW was aware of their intended protest and were ready outside with personnel and security if need be, and the bish. was simply trying to avoid having to have the personally removed. I saw a kind, gracious and yet powerful leader in the bish. this day, and I have great respect for his dignity and honor.

God, continue to be present in this church and help us remain in gracious and thoughtgul dialogue.

ELCA 9th Churchwide Assembly - Day 4 Reflections

Conversation and community is a powerful thing. Today the CWA entered a "Quasi Committee of the Whole" in order to have discussion without debate or motions. This took place for 60 minutes and any voting member who wished to speak was called to check-in at a mic and the mics were open in order of check-in. Each speaker was given 2 minutes and there were a total of 30 speakers (this is contested as it was reported at 31, but others counted 29, I counted 30.) At the end of this, the same gentleman who attempted to amend the rules of the voting surrounding the three sexuality issues called for a point of order. He went on like a 3 year-old that he was not given his right to speak, that he had waited 8 years and now was being robbed of this time and right. The chair (the Bish) ruled him out of order. Then someone made a motion to open another hour of conversation. This motion was then amended to say that those who had checked in but were not given the opportunity to speak because of time constraints would be allowed time to speak. This (I believe3) required a 2/3 vote and was defeated. So the agenda was not amended.

Following this vote, quite a few people left the assembly (voting members.) I was deeply troubled by this.

Additionally, as I was heading to dinner I noticed a sign for the advocacy group Good Soil that pointed to shuttled that would take people off site for a seperate Good Soil worship gathering. I was and still am greatly troubled by this! Just earlier many with connections to this group spoke out and called for unity! - yet here they were being divisive and joining in worship apart from the body that is gathered in a mode of conversation and community. We CAN NOT call for unity only when what we say or believe is accepted, but otherwise we do our own thing - this is hypocrisy!

Today was smooth however, and tomorrow is bound to be high with tension and anxiety. Please continue to pray for the CWA and all those who will be making decisions.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

ELCA 9th Churchwide Assembly - Day 3 Reflections

Tensions are high this morning around the issues of sexuality and the opening of conversation here at the assembly. But I think there are other issues that are being overshadowed and clouded. Today there were several other important topics that I think bear a great amount of responsibility for this church.

For example, the ELCA's restructuring proposal. This proposal was passed by a 2/3's majority. This has major implications on the various units and ministries of this church and its oversight. The biggest (in my view) of this is the dissolution of the Commission for Women. Gwendolyn - and Army Reserve Chaplina made a motion to create a new unit in this newly adopted restructuring proposal. However, this was quickly sent to the Reference and Council due to the need for new budgetary lines for this - so this will be voted on in the coming days.

Additionally, there was a report from the Youth Convo who reminded us that they are not only the future but that indeed they are the church of now! They additionally challenged the CWA to ensure that in 2007 each synod of the church has a voting youth member. This year there were only 13 voting youth members! When this challenge was issued the entire body stood up - signifying acceptance of this challenge. We pray that this church holds that challenge and exceeds it!

Also, the Renewing Worship proposal was accepted and a new hymnal/resource will be created. There was much debate on this - as I think is natural - in that worship is the very center of who we are as children of God. There was a division regarding timing - as some wished to have the final "product" brought before the CWA in either 2009 or 2007 in subsequent amendments. In the end the CWA voted to adopt the proposal. While I am not wholly "in love" with the RW materials I have seen/used I trust that this church will hold to its Lutheran heritage and theology, while looking to the reality of today.

In the evening I attended a reception hosted by Trinity, Wittenburg, and Capital. It was great to meet so many new people and to make new friends. This is a bonus of the CWA.

Tomorrow is a big day and additional media and press are becoming more and more visible. So as we continue, please remember in prayer the CWA and the poeple, places, and churches that these decisions affect.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Poetic thoughts....

We appear to wander aimlessly
toward one stated goal
But we tend to close our eyes,
trip, and fall
We often hurt and villify the "other"
in order to be heard
Yet in tis we mute and obscure
our own voice
But mostly we cover over the voice
of the one who holds us together
So let us stop in our places
and listen
Listen wholly and earnestly
to the voice of the love that binds us

*KSC, 8/10/05

ELCA 9th Churchwide Assembly - Day 2 Reflection

There is an overwhelming theme of "do not fear" yet I FEAR that this theme is only adding the the growing and intense fear experienced and felt by many who are present here at this churchwide assembly. Not a fear of ultimacy per se, but a fear of the unknown and what then. At least that is what I sense, and I would be remiss if I, in sharing this sense, didn't acknowledge this as my own personal fear.

I sat up until 2AM last night talking about a conversation in the bar earlier in the evening. Two old friends were talking and they both appeared on 'either side' of the sexuality issue. For one, there is a very personal connection in that they have a brother who is homosexual and his partner seeks a rostered vocation within the church. The other person while I am not aware of any personal ties such as this, does have friends and acquaintances who are homosexual and yet the doctrinal and scriptural witness do not allow this person to be in favor of the issues before this assembly.

But what I experienced in that conversation was God's full grace in living, breathing beauty. These two friends, while passionately disagreeing, even to the point of tears were able to embrace each other following this debate and remind each other that regardless of where any of us fall on this issue we can not forget the truth that Christ died for all of us, and that in the end our divisions are mute. In this is where my hope resides.

On another note - the exceeding politicalness of this assembly is repulsive. As we walk through the halls of this assembly we are always and constantly barraged with people shoving pamphlets in our hands or holding up pictures that I assume are suppossed to call us to a feeling of guilty or shame. These groups - on both sides of the issue are drawing us away from the fullness of our call as the Christian church. This is where I am reminded of our brokenness.

Please keep praying for this church and all who are gathered to make decisions regarding the life and mission of this church in the world.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

ELCA 9th Churchwide Assembly - Day 1 Reflection

Robert's Rules of Order - now why hasn't this been a required reading of my seminary education? In all seriousness, the first plenary session of the ELCA's 9th Churchwide Assembly ended last evening about 11:30pm - over 2.5 hours beyond the scheduled adjournment of 9pm!!

What kept us in session so long? The adoption of the "rules" for the assembly. There were several rules that were called to be reviewed and voted on seperately, in order to change the voting regulation from majority to 2/3 or vice-versa, as it pertains to the three issues related to the sexuality studies and recommendations for the ELCA.

Emotion and ultimate confusion abounded - as the first amendment failed and thus even the original language was struck and then there was nothing! The vote on the amendment was then called to be reconsidered and re-voted. So, the final outcome of that extra long session is:

"In the process of adopting the Rules of Organization and Procedure, voting members on Monday night approved the following on the subject of adoption of certain recommendations from task force reports:
A two-thirds majorite vote fo the voting members of the Churchwide Assembly present and voting shall be required to adopt recommendations from a task force report or amendments or substitute motions related to them that require amendment of a constitution or bylaw provision for implementation.
A two-thirds majority vote of the voting members of the Churchwide Assemblu present and voting shall be required to adopt recommendation from a task force report or amendments or substitute motions related to them that would establish for this church a new practice or policy that is countrary to an existing policy that has been adopted by the Church Council upon recommendation of a borad or committee, as authorized by the constitution or bylaws of this church."

Other than that, personally this beginning was both shocking and confusions, but also exciting and joyous as I have come across many friends and acquaintances that I have made throughout the church. The old phrase, "It's a small church," speaks ultimately to my experience, from my confirmaiton pastor, to a retired couple who traveled with my and my classmates to Turkey, Greece, and Rome.

So as we continue on today I pray for God's Spirit and truth to be present and central in all that we do as a church today. I also pray for clarity and love of community. Go be with us.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Life and Death Decisions

Back in March I posted a reflection on the Terri Shiavo case. Now my own family is facing some of those very issues. My aunt was taken to the hospital on Sunday due to heavy and labored breathing. While there she was thought to have had a heart attack, followed a few hours later by another. My cousin was with her the first moment she arrived, and my mother and I arrived on Monday evening. She is in the ICU and a ventilator is breathing for her. They have her sedated so that she won't pull the tubes out and get fiesty (as she is quite!) My cousin made the decision to wait, rather than removed the ventilator which was breathing 100% for her mother, and the doctors are not sure why she is not breathing. My mom and I went home and she called Wednesday to say that her mother was not on 100% oxygen, but 95% and that was a good sign. The doctors still didn't seem hopeful. Then they called last night to tell us that she had to receive a blood transfusion, as she is bleeding internally somewhere - yet they don't know where. Things don't look good. My cousin is holding on for all she can, and trying to keep her twin sister 'in' on things - but she doesn't understand much, except that her mother is "dying" - as her sister is mentally retarded and low functioning.

So what does one do? That was the quesiton I was asking before, and now the question is alive in my life. My aunt had not will, living will, or proxy - although quite ironically she called my mother on Saturday to tell her she was starting her will, and that my mother was going to be 'second' should her oldest daughter die before her. That was never finished. Her oldest daughter shared that her mother had told her she never wanted to be kept alive solely on machines. She hears that, but doesn't want to act too quickly. So, we all will stand with her as she cares for her mother, and we prayer for her, her mother and those that are caring for her in the hospital. I ask for your prayers too.