As a blog that wrestles with denominational politics, it was pretty quiet here last week, and that’s a good thing. I’m sure the temperature will rise again on ELCA, Lutheran CORE, NALC, and LCMC controversies, but Holy Week was an appropriately peaceful interlude. The one item to note from last week was the positive news from the ELCA that 2010 has seen forty-one new mission “starts” according to an ELCA press release.
These new starts represent what America is becoming, as 23 (of the 41 new starts) are among immigrant populations … Of the 41 new starts 12 are “worshiping communities” authorized by the ELCA’s 65 synods. These are communities with ministry potential.
Several of these are residuals of ELCA congregations that voted to leave but with a remnant of ELCA supporters pursuing an ELCA mission start. Lilly, one of the frequent commenters on this blog, reports on such a group in her Wisconsin community.
Before moving on to the inevitable skirmishes, allow me one look back at Holy Week at my
ELCA congregation (Bethel) and the rest of the Northfield ELCA community. Thursday morning, the normal “Blue Monday” gathering of six or eight ELCA clergy was rescheduled as a “power lunch” to coordinate weekend events. The Maunday Thursday service at Bethel was a dramatic skit themed around Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” masterpiece. While the thirteen actors portraying Jesus and the disciples held their Da Vinci pose, each in turn stepped to a microphone and offered a monologue. I portrayed Andrew. The skit ended with Jesus sharing the bread and wine with his disciples who then stepped in front of the table and shared the meal with the congregation. Good Friday evening at Bethel featured a Stations of the Cross presentation. Saturday, most of the local ELCA clergy gathered for a traditional Easter Vigil in Boe Chapel on the campus of St. Olaf. Bethel’s new associate pastor–Charlie Ruud (a St Olaf graduate)–was honored to preside over the eucharistic liturgy. Dramatic readings were accompanied by the pipe organ riffs of St Olaf music professor John Ferguson and rising incense followed by candle lighting and bell ringing. A combined choir concluded with Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. The Hallelujah chorus also highlighted each of the three Easter Sunday services at Bethel.
After a week of familiar Lutheran liturgies, I borrow a Youtube video from Lutheran Pastor and blogger John Petty which is a delightful sampling of Eastern Orthodox Easter music, Christos Anesti, Christ is risen.