From Generation to Generation

I have a pretty unique perspective on the life of our church. In my work I interact with an amazingly wide variety of congregations and rostered leaders. I visit your churches. I worship with you. I share food and drink with you. I counsel with you. I celebrate your joys and mourn your losses.
   Week in and week out I gather with you around Word and Sacrament. And whether the setting is rural or urban; the congregation large or small; I consistently hear the clarion call of the Gospel being proclaimed loud and clear with that wonderfully distinctive Lutheran grace note! “Salvation by grace, through faith.”
   We share such a rich and inspiring faith tradition and perspective. I feel so blessed to be a Lutheran Christian. I am so grateful for the faith legacy that has been transmitted to me and to my generation by the generations of the faithful who preceded us.
   With the passage of time and the experience of numerous life lessons, I have begun to think more and more about those who are coming behind us.
   I know firsthand how much the church of my generation has benefited from and been generously blessed by the gifts carefully stewarded and transmitted to us by the generations that served before us. Their legacy and generosity have positioned us to be faithful in our time and I am determined that the choices we make today will create the most favourable conditions possible for those disciples who will be working to serve and support God’s mission, 20, 50 and a hundred years hence.
   A wise elder of our synod would often helpfully remind us that when we address challenging questions, we need to ensure that our ancestors get a voice and a vote; not the only vote, but a vote nonetheless! He was right.
   But I have also learned from indigenous elders who have taught me that our successors also need to be given a voice and a vote. They’ve taught me consider the impact that my choices have for the seven generations coming after me.
   The choices that we make as churches today will have major implications for the disciples of Jesus who are coming after us. I would like us to claim an increased sense of urgency to help establish conditions wherein, not only we, but the generations following us, can engage God’s mission in the most faithful way possible.
   Like the generations of the faithful who preceded us, we have numerous challenges in this day; but I believe that we have an even greater abundance of opportunities. We have options available to us that could not have been imagined even fifty years ago. But if those options are to have any value, they actually need to be chosen and acted upon.
   Dear people, we have been liberated by God’s grace! We have nothing to fear and everything to gain. Do we dare to believe it and act upon it? I think we can. I sure hope we will!