I'm preaching this coming Sunday -- our pastor has us lay ministers on a monthly rotation now, in addition to our filling in if he's away. I'm looking forward to it.
After mulling over the Sunday texts a bit, I think I will be tackling the topic of Lutheran evangelism -- which reminds me of the joke about the old German who loved his wife so much that one day he almost told her.
Seriously -- I think that we often get a bad rap for not being more "out there" about our faith; that it's seen as a sign of lukewarm spirituality or theological ignorance. After pondering this perception for awhile, I've come to the conclusion that it's really more about our history -- our relatively late entry as a faith tradition into a multicultural milieu where religious doctrine is a commodity in the marketplace of ideas rather than part of a shared cultural heritage -- and our discomfort/distaste toward what has constituted "evangelism" in our interactions with other flavors of Christians.
But be that as it may, we do have a particular ray of theological light, we Lutherans, that is sometimes obscured by a bushel -- and that's our understanding of grace; of God "always coming down." And many of our Christian neighbors are in as much, or even more, desperate need of this insight than the increasing pool of completely irreligious Americans. As I blogged earlier this month, I recently came upon an online correspondent desperately worried about the state of grace of a young autistic relative who, the person noted, couldn't comprehend or vocalize the Baptifundigelical "sinner's prayer" in a meaningful way. For this person, God apparently is the bridgekeeper in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, demanding a password in order for us to cross over to the "saved" side of God's equation. Now, I know that this individual is misunderstanding his own tradition's ideas about salvation and accountability, which grants a kind of dispensation to the mentally disabled; but still...what a sad and anxious way to go through life.
We Lutheran Christians have some real good news to share in these situations. So let's do it.
That's the gist of my sermon, anyhow.