Dear Friends in Christ,
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The words and prayer of Bishop Jim Mauney, who serves as the Bishop of the Virginia Synod, were especially meaningful for me to read yesterday. I would like to share them with you.
On this Friday, some things bear repeating (written Friday, August 18, 2017):
The first is to repeat my request that all of us lift up the town of Charlottesville, its people, its government and first responders, its injured from last weekend, and the families of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper Berke Bates. I ask that you would lift up the congregations of St. Mark and Peace along with the many houses of faith in Charlottesville. In conversations this week with pastors in Charlottesville, we pray for a healing and a strengthening by the Holy Spirit for a returning of this place of people, commerce, culture, and learning to its vibrant sense of well-being and joy.
It bears repeating that we do not talk enough about the outright lie that the color of one’s skin contributes to the value that God has for them or the intelligence that one has or the content of the character of a person. We do not talk enough about the outright lie that says the south wasn’t built on the backs of people sold and regarded as property. We do not talk enough that we are “one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice FOR ALL.”
It bears repeating, that as a Lutheran Christian I regard my faith as founded upon a Galilean Jew crucified and risen from the dead, from faithful Jewish disciples and apostles of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee and a Pharisee from Tarsus and the key early centers of faith in Damascus and Syria. I give thanks for the crafter of the Nicene Creed, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria, described as black as tar. I give thanks for Bishop Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in Northern Africa, whose theology shaped the faith of an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther, 1000 years later. My faith has been built upon the shoulders of Jews, Arabs, Africans, Greeks, Christians and martyrs of Asia Minor. It wasn’t until after 800 AD that my Anglo-Saxon ancestors even heard of Jesus Christ. I am honored to be grafted to the tree of faithful Israel that St. Paul speaks to in Romans 9-11. As Christians we remember Ephesians 4: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
It bears reflection that the great anniversaries of the civil war have also been within our nation rises of white supremacy, particularly following the 50th, where the vast majority of our confederate statues were erected. And we recall the tens of thousands of hooded figures parading in the streets of cities across America in the 1920’s. Rather than let such anniversaries or public parades redraw lines, we should all learn from such events that our strength is in our rich resource of gifted people of all nationalities, cultures, faiths, and languages and the conviction that access to equal opportunity for all results in the strength of a united nation.
A PETITION FOR THE VARIETY OF FACES AND CULTURES
“O God, you created all people in your image. We thank you for the astonishing variety of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (LBW, p. 42)
I will join you in prayer this Sunday and I will be praying for your preaching, teaching, and worship of our Lord who emptied himself and came for us all.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. James F. Mauney
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