As part of my process to become an ordained minister in the ELCA, in 2016 I was required to write an essay focusing on my hopes and dreams for the church, where I see God at work in the world, and what I believe about our incredible God. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing excerpts of this essay, as our Learning Lutheran educational series continues and we as a congregation dive into our faith, I invite you to dive into my faith with me..
- Describe how these key theological insights informed the missional leadership experience you described above in #1.
I heard the Gospel eight years before the Holy Spirit hit me with faith, that pastor who confirmed me in spite of my avid atheism began leaving what I call Gospel-breadcrumbs. This moment was the first of the breadcrumbs he left me. Throughout the years in between this experience and the second experience described in #1, he preached on God’s love and mercy each Sunday my mom forced me to attend church, he reached out to me during one of my darkest moments in my life and proclaimed God’s love and mercy through a cheeseburger and a tremendous gift of acceptance, and that church family continued to invite me and include me in youth trips and experiences, knowing fully my beliefs.
I didn’t earn their love. I didn’t earn their grace. If anything, I spat on it – regularly. But in the same way God’s love for me is without my merit, so was the love and grace Creator shared with me at any opportunity they were given.
In the same way I now am called by my faith, called by the love God has given me, to share God’s love with the world around me, this love and grace began with my neighbors at Creator Lutheran. In a media-driven world that showed me a Christianity that was often hateful or bigoted, Creator preached to me the true Gospel – the Gospel of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins, for the sake of God’s love for me and for the world[i]. And although this was also the subject of the sermons that I happened to catch on occasion, it was most embodied by the pastor and by the members of the church outside the usual Sunday service.
[i] John 3:16