That being said…let me introduce you to some of my people!
Frederick Niedner – Professor Niedner is the Senior Research Professor and former Chair of the Theology Department at Valparaiso University. He led a workshop on themes for study and preaching around the upcoming gospel lessons in Luke. I know I will preach a few times this summer so I wanted to hear his words of wisdom. I also recently read an article he wrote for the Christian Century on prayer. It is powerful. I encourage you to read it: Lord, Have Mercy: How does one pray about cancer?
I introduced myself afterwards and said how much his recent writing meant to me. We both were in a tender place. As we talked our eyes filled with tears for the people we care about but also for the ways that the Spirit brings people together. I learned much that day from him about the intersections of theology and life.
Michael Rinehart – This is the bishop of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the ELCA. Bishop Rinehart led a workshop on prayer. I connected with him as he shared his own vulnerable prayer story – times in which he found new ways to pray in the midst of personal struggle. It was good to hear such honesty from a high profile leader in my own church body.
Bishop Rinehart spoke of the importance of silence in our daily lives. Prayer is not only our checklist of people for God to notice. Prayer is also sitting in silence listening to and for the voice of God. He shared ideas of how he and others “get to the silence”.
We did not meet personally, unless you count him accepting my request to be his Facebook friend! I look forward to learning more from him.
Leaders who inspire me: Paul, Joe, Nate, Chris, Kevin, Marissa, Kyle, Angie - This picture is filled with new and emerging leaders of the ELCA. Some people look at them and say, “There is the future of our church.” I beg to differ. They are our leaders now! They are doing good work: challenging people, preaching and living the gospel, experimenting with new ways of faith formation, building bridges across our human boundaries…and inspiring me. Part of the joy of conferences like this are the extended times for conversation. We shared our reflections on the content of the conference but also how the energy of the entire event inspires imagination for our work.
These are my people and because of what I now know about them – they would claim me as one of their people. Thank you to Dr. Lorraine Brugh and the Advisory Council of the Institute of Liturgical Studies for continuing to help me see the beauty and the power of the church as we do our work together.