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Blessed, Broken, Shared

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (Luke 24:30-31)

The theme for this year’s DE-MD Synod Assembly (held last weekend at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster, MD) was inspired by the story in Luke 24 of Jesus encountering two discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus who “had hoped” that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel and who had not yet heard of his resurrection. Bishop Gohl acknowledged that many of us “had hoped we could go back to the comforts of previous days,” when “churches were full and extra chairs lined the aisles.” But just as Jesus met those two travelers on the road, the bishop promised, “Hope meets us on the way.”  Indeed!

This year’s assembly was uplifting and forward looking. We passed a Faith Spending Plan for the coming fiscal year that was realistic but not fearful. We elected people to a variety of offices and responsibilities. We passed resolutions and memorials calling for action on several peace and justice initiatives, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and advocating an immediate bilateral cease fire between Israel and Palestine. The commitment and enthusiasm on display as people worked together to accomplish these tasks—both at the Assembly and in the months leading up to it—leaves me feeling hopeful about the future of our church.

My eyes were opened, and I recognized Jesus, however, in other parts of our time together, as speakers shared stories about themselves and their work. Our Bible study leader offered a profound reading of the verse above, from the Emmaus story, wondering if the Greek verb translated as “recognized” would be bettered rendered as “met”—as in, in the breaking of the bread, the travelers suddenly met Jesus on a whole other level. He shared a story of a personal interaction with a young orphan that upended his assumptions about generosity and service. The ELCA’s Director for Racial Justice represented the Presiding Bishop’s office, but she also talked about being the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants and finding new community and lifelong vocation in her formative years through the persistent welcome and invitation of a local pastor and congregation. Getting to know people through their stories is always my favorite part of synod assemblies!

I think it works that way here at home, too.  A congregation is more than worship and meetings. Working together and sharing experiences helps us “meet” each other beyond simple recognition…and these are the ways we will be church for a new day as we live into our mission to love, to invite, to serve.

May our eyes be opened to Jesus’ presence in the possibilities that await us.

Pastor Sue



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