A Blog by Bishop Christopher deForest...
May 21, 2022
“On The Way” is a play on the word “synod,” which comes from two Biblical Greek words, syn and hodos. These can mean “on the road with” and also “walking with” – since most people in Bible times (and around the world still today) got from place to place on foot. My intention is to connect with you in this way every week or two. I will also occasionally include a video version to go with the text.
HORROR AND HEARTBREAK IN BUFFALO
I got to speak with Bishop Lee Miller yesterday – which was Wednesday, May 18. He is the bishop of the upstate New York Synod, which includes the city of Buffalo. I wanted to offer him and his synod any and all the prayers and support we can give, as their neighbors and siblings in Christ. In the end, words failed us and we just sat there, shocked, angry, and full of grief. These wonderful, beautiful people, just living their lives, shopping for their groceries, were shot and gravely wounded and murdered, all because of their race and because of hate, and to generate terror.
Words escape me because I grow so tired of words. I long for action and answers. This is why, we must stay on course to continue to work against racism and the hate and fear that continues to divide us -- driving some of us to do horrible things, and so many of us to feel paralyzed to speak out and act.
I invite you to read Bishop Lee Miller’s pastoral letter – click on this link to find the whole text. Let me repeat here some of his most powerful words:
“Let us be of one mind. We in the Upstate New York Synod and in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America reject racism and a white-supremacy worldview and mindset. We renounce the ways scripture has been used to support genocide, enslavement of people, oppression, and mass incarceration. We acknowledge, lament, and repent in the ways we have been complicit in a white dominate culture which supports competitive individualism, binary ways of problem solving, seeking comfort over reparations, and centering power within, thereby marginalizing the experience, voice, and thoughts of others.”
We too, as their neighbor synod of Northeastern Pennsylvania, we all stand with them and all the ELCA, in these laments, these acknowledgments, these renunciations, this need for repentance, and for action.
OUR LONG-HELD COMMITMENTS ON ABORTION
Along with the letter written by Bishop Miller, I was also very grateful for the Pastoral Message written this week by our ELCA Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton. It addressed another difficult and divisive issue in our country and our church today – abortion. If you have not read it, I invite you to click this link to find it – it is also available on the ELCA website.
One of the points that I appreciated most, was that she lifted up our ELCA Social Statement on Abortion – you can also find this document by clicking this link. This Social Statement was written 31 years ago, in 1991, which means that we as a church have been praying and working diligently on these matters for a very long time. The conclusions we came to three decades ago still seem current, faithful, centered in Christ and in scripture – and, it seems to me, still connect with what the majority of Americans think and feel.
I am thankful that those who have gone before us – many of whom are still alive, but many of whom have gone on to glory and still stand witness to us at the bosom of Jesus – did this faithful work that so clearly proclaims a message of compassion and care for all life. It is now our work, to follow in their footsteps.
On the Way of Jesus together,
Bishop Christopher deForest