Thursday, October 7, 2010

What a week!

I'm still pondering lots of things from the LCMC gathering earlier this week. What a great gathering! It was so fun to reconnect with lots of people, to be swept up in solid biblical teaching and keynote speakers focused on Jesus and his commission to the church. I just had a conversation with someone who had heard about the gathering, and what they had heard "wasn't very Lutheran." I always get a kick out of the ways we use that word. What does it mean to be Lutheran? Is it about a stodgy style of liturgical worship? Is it about what we serve at potlucks? Is it about names like Johnson and Anderson and Nelson? One of the speakers at the LCMC gathering was Enrique Estrada, a Lutheran pastor from Mexico. He joked that in Minnesota, he felt like he should change his name to Estradason.

What is Lutheran? It's not about a style of worship or a style of food. It's about an understanding of who Jesus is, what he has done for us and what it means to follow him. Today the "average" Lutheran in the world today is from East Africa, eats ugali and speaks Swahili as a second language after their tribal dialect. What do I have in common with these Lutherans? We worship the same Jesus; we understand that he has saved us by his grace, not because of what we have done. We understand that we receive this salvation by faith alone. We recognize the Bible as the only foundation for this faith and for our life both individually and as a church. This is the substance of what it means to be Lutheran.

This morning I had the privilege of sitting in with a group of women from Central who are starting a study on the book of Revelation. (Thanks for the coffee!) They are a group who are hungry and growing in God's Word, and I'm quite confident they'll enjoy this study. Great stuff.

One of the biggest pieces of this week, though, has been anticipating the initial meeting this Sunday of our first "Delta group." A group of people who have been associated with Central's Alpha ministry are gathering as a medium sized group. It's not a traditional small group of a dozen people who meet weekly for study and accountability; it's a group of 20-30 people who meet every couple weeks around a Bible passage, some time for worship and prayer, to eat together and enjoy each other's company. The idea comes from Holy Trinity Brompton in London, where they call these groups "pastorates." The purpose is to grow deeper together, to care for each other, to develop new leaders and their gifts, and to draw new people in and eventually to give birth to another group. I'm eager to see where God takes this! The idea of doing a Delta group -- Delta because on a river, the delta is the place of life, the place where growth happens, where the river meets the ocean -- has been on my mind for several years, and this fall it seems like God's Spirit has finally cleared the decks and set things in motion so this can happen.

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