THIS WEEK'S REFLECTION
This week we are highlighting the necessity for confession and repentance for the ways our church has caused harm, while also offering a hope-filled call to continue reforming so that we might excel in our embodiment of God’s grace as we move into the next 500 years. Church of Hope’s work for justice is supported and amplified by reform movements such as Decolonize Lutheranism, a reform movement within the ELCA to lift up the stories of people who are not part of the dominant culture, but who identify as Lutheran and who want full inclusion without forced assimilation.
Our reading this Sunday is yet another challenging parable of Jesus from Matthew 22:1-14. There are many interpretations of this violent and puzzling text about a wedding banquet. If we approach it mindful of the racial and class disparities that persist among us today, it might prod us toward some unsettling questions:
Who among us is confident that they are the welcome guests at the metaphorical wedding banquet--and why do some feel that confidence while others do not?
How can the church learn not to entrench societal divisions between insiders and outsiders, the chosen people and those cast into the outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth?
How does the gospel repeatedly place at the center those people who society wants to keep at the margins? How do we, as people of the gospel, respond to a society that is set up to keep racial hierarchies in place?
What kind of gatekeeping do we (unintentionally?) support? What are our blind spots, where we perpetuate exclusionary practices that undermine our efforts to be a community where all are truly welcome and valued?
This month marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which traces its birth to the day (October 31, 1517) when a Catholic monk named Martin Luther posted a list of 95 Theses (points for discussion) to the door of his church in Germany. 500 years later, here at Church of Hope we continue in the Lutheran tradition of discussing hard questions, sharing meals together, gathering weekly to pray and sing and celebrate communion, working for justice for all God’s people, and living as “saints and sinners”--accepted by God’s grace and transformed by God’s love to live in freedom and hope.
Celebrating this 500th anniversary presents a great opportunity for us to explore more deeply what it means to be Lutheran (though there will always be a place for everyone here at Church of Hope--whether or not you consider yourself Lutheran!). As we learn about taking the step of officially organizing as a congregation, we will have time for study, conversation, and questions.
Check out this pamphlet for discussion, with examples of what Lutherans are up to and places of resonance between the ELCA (our Lutheran denomination) and Church of Hope. Download here or pick up a copy at church!
Always Reforming: 500 Years of Re-Creating the Church
Sundays in October
During the month of October, the community of Church of Hope is entering into conversation discerning whether the time is right for us to officially organize as a congregation. We are already in relationship with theEvangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), our financial sponsor and spiritual home for these first 6 years of our existence.
Since many of us do not come from a place of identifying as Lutheran, this is a good time to explore: Why the ELCA in particular? Great question:here’s a document exploring this question in depth, welcoming your participation! I invite you to reflect on these points, explore the various links, and participate in the ongoing conversation! Your comments are welcome: directly on the google doc (hit the “comment” button in the upper left of your screen), email us and/or join us Sundays in October to discern together how we will be church.
Oct 8: Lutherans Working for Peace and Justice
Oct 15: Decolonizing Lutheranism
Oct 22: Lutheran Theology of Grace: Baptism
Oct 29: Lutheran Theology of God among Us: Communion