As Martin Luther once said before his accusers, “Here I stand,” we did something similar. We held a congregational meeting. We voted to adopt a public statement of Welcome & Inclusion and to become a partner with Reconciling Works (among others) to be a congregation Reconciling in Christ.
Last week, I wrote about the Reformation. That probably means that I should find another topic for this week. But, hey, I’m a Lutheran Pastor and I have thought a lot about the ways the Reformation of the Christian Faith 500 years ago plays out today. So, bear with me.
Last Sunday, as we celebrated the Reformation, I’d like to think that our congregation was engaging that spirit of the day in a concrete way. As Martin Luther once said before his accusers, “Here I stand,” we did something similar. We held a congregational meeting. We voted to adopt a public statement of Welcome & Inclusion and to become a partner with Reconciling Works (among others) to be a congregation Reconciling in Christ. The statement we adopted says:
STATEMENT OF INCLUSION & WELCOME – HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH
Grace, peace, and welcome to you in the name of the blessed, Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We are people simultaneously faithful and afraid; broken and redeemed; joyful and struggling to keep it together. Together, we strive to share God’s love by loving our neighbors and loving creation. Even though we don’t know you yet, we already love you.
You are loved. We believe you are a beloved child of God created in God’s image.
You are loved. We believe Jesus loves you and taught us, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
You are loved. Your race, gender identity, mental or physical ability, sexual orientation, marital status, financial situation, social standing, education, cultural background, immigration status, or any other category or label cannot separate you from the love of God, nor keep you from being what God called you to be.
You are loved. No matter where you are on your faith journey, no matter the questions you bring, no matter the doubts or struggles you bear, there is a place for you here to ask, seek, and share.
You are invited. We strive to create a safe, inclusive, and affirming environment where all are invited, and each is accepted and embraced. We invite you to receive and share God’s love as you are, for who you are.
The People of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
I’d like to think that for all the LBGTQ+ people who have been shamed, rejected, and ostracized by the Church; for all the unmarried pregnant young women who were driven away; for the poor who didn’t smell right and were shown the church door out; for the people who were the wrong color who were stared at; our action nailed a protest to the door of the Church saying that we will no longer operate that way in this place. (Of course, it will take vigilance to live this out).
Last week I wrote 10 Theses for our own reformation Number 1 was: The use of religion as a means of keeping people out, apart, inline, under control is over, folks. We need to stop with the judgmentalism, the hate, the exclusion if we say we worship a God of Love. This action is part of our response.I’d like to think that through the work of the Spirit, the faithfulness of God’s presence, we tacked up a notice that we plan to take up the cause of welcoming the creatures and creation God made instead of keeping them out.
That is what I think. Here we stand, with the people who are so often excluded, shamed, pointed at and hated. It is where Jesus stood, so we’re in good company. Thanks to the people of Holy Trinity for joining in God’s reformation of the Church.
Pastor Tim Olson