Ascension Lutheran ChurchA Member Congregation of the ELCA
|1101 S. Highway 69 - Albert
Lea, MN 56007 - 507-373-3408
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the upside-down kingdom inaugurated by the
death and resurrection of
Jesus, paradox prevails. Last is first, and
first is last. Poor is
rich, and rich is poor. Death is life and life
Luther taught that the work of God is sub
– Latin for “(hidden) under the opposite.” For
most glorious work is seen in the redemption
that God accomplishes
through the suffering Savior on the cross – an
eternal triumph that
doesn’t really look
like a victory.
this entire fifty-day church year excursion in
of Jesus – moves the attentive disciple away
from expecting to see
Jesus in plausible “proof” toward instead
fully alive in the “hidden” presence he
it’s only on the sub
bus that we can best view the bright
upside-down vista of the
we imagine ourselves “right-side-up,” then the
ascension of Jesus
looks like an evacuation into a safe-haven
heaven, and an escape from
this sullied earth. Either way, it becomes
essentially an assessment
that Jesus is gone.
reminds me of a story by another master of
parabolic storytelling: Dr. Seuss. In
Horton Hears a Who,
an elephant – let those who have ears, hear –
hears an entire
city, a realm that nobody else can see or
with Whoville, the first step toward
discerning an upside-down
kingdom is to believe that it’s there. Isn’t
it interesting that
so many of the Gospel readings throughout
Easter focus NOT on
resurrection appearances, but on remembering
and rehearsing the
cryptic things Jesus said BEFORE his death and
Listen and behold. Christ is here!
– Pastor Mark Boorsma
A Special Message from Bishop Steven Delzer
February 26, 2018
In my spiritual direction group, after the spiritual director has read a passage from scripture or another devotional source, we sit in silence for several minutes reflecting on what “shimmered” for each of us, what word or phrase or thought captivated the mind and heart in each of us.
Over the past several days as I have observed the reactions to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, especially as I have listened to the reactions of the students, the phrase that has captured my mind and heart is “a little child shall lead them” from Isaiah 11:6. I believe this is the time in our history when we need to listen deeply to our children, trusting that through them the Spirit will lead us to see more clearly God’s dream for our world.
Why do I think this? The context of that message is one of a peaceful kingdom, a world in which (Isaiah 11:6,9):
The world shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them…
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
I think this is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”
I once heard someone describe the four L’s for pastors: they should listen to their people, learn from their people, love their people, and then lead their people. In reflecting on the response of students to this latest shooting, I sense this is a time in which all of us, especially parents and grandparents, need to listen to our children, learn from our children, love our children, and then let our children lead us more deeply into the world id God’s dream, a world in which we actually “beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4)
This does not mean that I think we should do away with the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. However, it does seem reasonable to clearly define which arms we have a right to bear and which arms we do not have a right to bear (such as military style automatic weapons). I truly believe that the majority of gun owners are are responsible gun owners. I still recall that one of the most touching descriptions of the beauty of creation came from a father on a hunting trip with his daughter. I trust that many gun owners are just as disturbed by gun violence as those of us who are not gun owners. My hope is that together we can have honest conversations about how we move toward a less violent society, a more peaceful nation, one guided more by love than by fear.
I will admit that I wrestle with all of this. At times I am filed with hope. And at other times as I see how divisive this conversation about guns can be. I am filled with despair, wondering why bother, this is just too hard. But then the Spirit brings to mind the words of my favorite scripture passage (Isaiah 43:1-5).
But now thus says the lord, who created you.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, your Savior.
You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.
Do not fear, for I am with you.
As we walk through the raging rivers of gun violence and the fearful flames of heated conversations, may we know and trust that God walks with us, maybe most lovingly in our children. May we carefully listen to our children, learn from our children, love our children, and let our children lead us into the world of which God dreams.
Peace and Joy in Christ