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  • Writer's picturePastor Chris Smith

Letters and Hope

In a letter to the church in Rome, Paul writes, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” We often hear this at funerals or when our loved ones complete their earthly baptismal journeys, and we hear these words in those moments because they remind us that from the beginning of life to the end (and everything in between) we belong with God.

Last month, our congregation received two letters that encourage us in our holy work in much the same way Paul encourages the Romans. The first is a letter from our Southeastern Synod Lutheran Youth Organization (SESLYO) that asks us to focus our care and attention with folks in the transgender community. In the letter, our young church encourages us to use preferred pronouns, to accommodate all LGBTQIA+ individuals with safe housing for events, to reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community and to utilize resources like Reconciling in Christ Ministries to further develop welcome statements and a supportive community. How blessed are we to find such encouragement and guidance from our young people?

The second letter arrived a few weeks later in response to the letter of encouragement we received from our siblings in Hollywood, CA. This letter came from Gethsemane Lutheran Church in St. Lois, MO. Pastor Cheryl reflects in the letter “It was such a gift of the Holy Spirit to be reminded that this work of advocacy will upset people, but that doesn’t mean the advocacy should be abandoned. Indeed, it becomes even more important to remain steadfast in living our faith and echoing the abundant love we know from God through Jesus Christ.”

We are in the midst of trying times. These letters remind us that we belong to Christ, and that Christ is working through us and our siblings to embrace a hurting world. Friends, be encouraged this week. We are not alone in the struggle. Receive this blessing from our friends at Gethsemane:

"May God give you strength in these times of struggle. We are a people who proclaim resurrection, who take hold of the life that really is life. May hope sustain you."

Grace and peace,

Pastor Chris

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