I confess that when I was asked to write for LivingLutheran.com, I expected to simply have a virtual pulpit where I could share thoughts that might not fit into the lectionary or community I was sharing a Sunday morning with.
I’m glad to say that it has become more than that to me. Recently, I’ve been logging onto the website regularly to read tips about how to minister to diverse populations or in difficult settings and to read the thoughts of Lutherans across the country.
What is new and exciting about this site, is not that Lutherans are living out their faith in creative and justice-centered ways, but that we are beginning to learn how to talk about it.
The members of the ELCA are very good at doing. I’ve been proud of my church’s response to natural disasters, poverty, human suffering and all the seen and unseen ways we are fulfilling the gospel call to “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
We are truly an active church, but sometimes we are like a family that shows kindness and supports each other but never says the words “I love you” out loud.
Sometimes actions speak louder than words. But in a world where there are loud Christians getting attention because of their fire and brimstone rhetoric, we need to become people, congregations and a church with a strong voice to, at the very least, name the faith that inspires and agitates us to do all that we do.
Growing up in South Dakota, I was taught that taking credit for work that you had done or drawing attention to the good stuff you were doing in the world showed a lack of humility. I was told it was certainly not Lutheran and possibly not even a Christian thing to do.
I wonder what is more important to God, humility or evangelism?
Certainly during this Lenten season we will hear the texts about not being too showy about our faith. But more often than that, through the entire church year we will hear Christ’s call to share the news with those who will listen and to become better listeners seeking the still small voice of God.
I’ll also confess that even though I sometimes preach up to four times a week, I still forget to see and proclaim God’s activity in my daily life. This is to say, I’m good at evangelizing to others and reminding them to see God present in the world, but I’m not so good at evangelizing to myself.
I pass beautiful gardens and give thanks for the hands that tend them, but I forget to give thanks to the Creative One who not only gives life and light to the plants, but also sustained generations upon generations of gardeners who passed the seeds to each other.
During this Lenten season, I’m going to embrace the phrase, “Thanks be to God.” I say it often in church without thinking. But over the next month, I am committed to noticing God in, among and working through the ordinary world that I encounter each day.
When the bus comes on time, thanks be to God.
When the store has my favorite drink, thanks be to God.
When I am moved by the compassion and generosity of others, thanks be to God.
When someone talks about good health after a cancer scare, thanks be to God.
When I’m there for a friend in need, thanks be to God.
And to begin changing ancient Lutheran patterns, I will also say to you: I love you. God loves you. And, thank you for all the ways you embody your faith in the world.
Go and do likewise.
Megan M. Rohrer is an ELCA pastor called by five congregations, who has served as a missionary to the homeless in San Francisco since 2002.