Lord, When Did We See You?

Matthew 25:44-45 44‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ The above text from the gospel of Matthew comes from a scene where people are being judged for their lack of compassion and caring for the needy of the world. Their excuse is that they never saw a need. The writer of Matthew is making clear to the Church and all who would follow Jesus that we are to be ever alert to the needs of those around us. In the words of Jesus, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” This teaching is the constant clarion call to Christians that we are to be about doing and advocating justice in all the world. Christian writer, Erik Kolbell, noted that importance of God’s grace is realized by our “human willingness to channel that Grace in our interaction with one another and the world.” To this end the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been about the task of being mindful of our role in making God’s grace real in the world by addressing issues of social justice. In our nearly 30 year history as a church the ELCA has produced 12 social statements that have offered voice and direction to congregations as to how we as a Church can respond to a variety of issues in our world. The importance of how we arrive at these social statements comes from a desire to first engage the members of ELCA congregations in a dialog about a given subject. Our social statements are not produced from within some mythical “Ivory Tower.” Rather each statement is the result of members of ELCA congregations coming together and reflecting on key issues of the day. Together we give input and direction that are ultimately brought together in a social statement that is approved by voting members at our triennial assemblies . The goal is always to present a social statement that has been shaped from the input of a multitude of ELCA Lutherans. In 2009, the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA authorized a social statement process “on the topic of justice for women in church and society.” A task-force was charged with the responsibility of creating a document that would engage people in a conversation on the subject of justice for women. “Faith, Sexism, Justice: Conversations toward a Social Statement” is the name of the study that has now arrived for study within the congregations of the ELCA. The leadership of Grace is inviting all of us to join in this conversation for three weeks during the month of February. We have a marvelous opportunity to contribute to a very important statement on social justice. My concern as a pastor is that we will dismiss this exercise as not worthy of our time or diminish its importance as though this topic is not relevant. I fear that in doing so we place ourselves in that uncomfortable spot as those in that text from Matthew; “Lord when did we not care for you?” Conversation alone will not solve the injustice confronting women in our society and in the world; however conversation will open our eyes to seeing a need so that we are better able to work on behalf of so many who have been confronted with injustice in our world. It is important that men become involved in this conversation in order to gain perspective, share insights and to help in crafting solutions that will bring real and lasting justice. Plan to join us on Sundays, February 12, 19, & 26 from 12:30 – 3:00 PM. Lunch will be provided! Please look for more details in the newsletter on how become involved in this conversation.

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