Do you? ELCA Lutherans gather many who appreciate mystery rather than certainties. Many of us recognize the gray of this world instead of seeing everything in black and white. Lutherans are grounded in an identity of academic debate, theological exploration and a willingness to see things in a new way. I see this as a good thing… usually. In recent decades we have chosen to hold ancient doctrines that seem to exclude or judge less dearly. We seem to be more interested in challenging people with the idea of grace than scaring people with guilt. At our best this makes sinners of all kinds feel like God hasn’t left us behind. Again, this is good. At our worst, though, this perspective replaces the Church of Jesus Christ with a simple warm & fuzzy feeling that has no core. If we believe everything, so as not to offend anyone, then we actually believe in nothing. So, what is at our core? What do we believe?
Between worship services during the month of June, in place of Bible Bits, I will lead a study of N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope. It’s a bit heavier than typical summer reading, but well worth your time. It was a New York Times best seller when it came out in 2008. Many churches have read it and watched its accompanying DVD (there’s a participant’s guide too). It doesn’t offer the correct ‘answers’ but will give us a great opportunity to talk through what our hope is really for.
Every confirmation class I’ve ever taught, every Camp Counselor Training I’ve ever led, and most Bible studies I’ve been to land on this question eventually: what exactly happens when we die? Does each individual have their own ‘day of judgment’ or will it happen once for all? And if the latter, isn’t that horrible to think of? Our loved ones are just laying there… dead? And then there are the questions about body and soul. Is there a soul? What happens to our bodies? What does resurrection mean anyway? Typically, we Lutherans shrug our shoulders and say something like: “MYSTERY” rather than feel our way through.
That’s why I’m inviting everyone into a conversation about life, death, hope and resurrection all month in the Mary Room. Throughout June at 9:15, we will gather downstairs, having read another section of the book. Books are free, and will be made available June 1. Come, explore hope with us!