But for me it is good to be near God…” (Psalm 73:28a).

In this morning’s Psalm reading, the psalmist is reminded of the nearness of God. With so much pain and strife in our world, we may wonder about the promise of God’s presence. There are moments in the Psalms when the writer boldly cries out, “Are you present O God? Are you near? Where are you?”

Comfort follows questions, as the writer of a particular psalm begins to see that God is truly present in the pain and the strife. Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann reminds us that there are times of disorientation in our lives, and these difficult times are often followed by moments of reorientation, as we come to a new understanding and a strengthened faith, where God shows us a new way.

My prayer for you this week is that you experience both a reorientation and the nearness of the Living God. Like the psalmist, may you know the promise of God’s presence.

During the first week of March, the Conference of Bishops gathered in Chicago for our annual Spring meeting. This was the first time that we gathered in person in two years. We were led by Bishop Tracie Bartholomew (New Jersey), who serves as the Chair of the Conference of Bishops. Some highlights of our time together include:

  • Morning and Evening Worship.
    • Bishop Eaton led our Opening Eucharist
    • I was blessed to lead Morning Prayer on Friday morning
  • Prayer: a number of us gathered early in the morning to engage in Centering Prayer.
  • Welcomed fifteen new bishops and bid farewell to four retiring bishops
    • There will be six synodical bishop elections in 2022, including an election here in the Northwestern Ohio Synod
  • A Day of Prayer and Retreat led by Rev. Jay Wittmeyer, Director of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.
  • Intentional Time for Boundaries and Anti-Racism Training led by Crossroads
  • Reviewed the ELCA Social Statement Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture
  • Reviewed a Draft from the Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations entitled, “Preaching and Teaching with Love and Respect for the Jewish People”
  • Reviewed an Updated Draft of the Synod Authorized Ministry Guidelines for ELCA Church Council deliberation and consideration
  • The next in person meeting of the Conference of Bishops will be held on August 7, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio, prior to the 2022 Churchwide Assembly.