Reading: Matthew 16: 13-20, Hebrews 13: 8
Monday, October 11, 2010, was a day off work for many, giving them time to celebrate Columbus Day. For others, it was the day they lost their church job. Early that day, I received word that the ELCA Presiding Bishop was announcing the new structure for the church. I read the official news release and while it understandably lacked specific details of who was getting cut, I could see some themes in the new structure. It made me jump to some conclusions I felt were inevitable and that made me upset. There were cuts in areas that I have deep passions for and I felt my church let me down. It was not the church I had come to know and love and I suddenly felt left out. Which made me think of those who felt the church left them down in the wake of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. Or those who felt the church left them down before that assembly’s decisions.
I have colleagues who work in the churchwide office and in weeks prior to the restructuring announcement, I talked to one of them about the impending changes. Those folks weighed heavily on my mind that day and were in my prayers. So, I sent an e-mail to those workers, telling them that I was thinking about them and praying for them. I relayed that I couldn’t imagine what it was like to be on Higgins Road that day. One responded to me, thanking me for the prayers for him and for the church.
And I was humbled. In the midst of this turmoil and pain for many, that man, who lost his job with the ELCA, reminded me that the church is more than just this decision. The Spirit often blows through in ways that are new and mysterious. The church indeed is more than this one announcement.
That night, walking on the campus of Susquehanna University, the carillon played, “Built on a Rock.” I was reminded of the lyrics, “the church will stand, even when steeples are falling.” And I felt peace, because no matter what was happening in Chicago, the church will survive. It might look different than we’re used to, but we can rest assured in the words of the writer of Hebrews, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”
Jesus Christ is the rock on which our church was built. If you build your life on that foundation, you will be strong. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Reflect upon the first verse of the aforementioned hymn:
Built on a Rock, the church shall stand
Even when steeples are falling
Crumbled have spires in every land
Bells still are chiming and calling
Calling the young and old to rest
Calling the souls of those distressed
Longing for life everlasting.
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