Advent Lutheran Church of Anoka
APRIL 2019

Pastor’s Ponderings

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote a honey of an article in the March Living Lutheran periodical.  The title was  Spiritual and religious.   You hear unchurched people say that they are ‘spiritual, but not religious.’  They claim a meaningful relationship with God, though apart from the church with all its traditions, doctrines, and worship practices.  You probably have neighbors or family members who fit in this growing part of the population. Maybe they had a bad experience in the Church. Maybe they are reacting to negative press about the Church. Perhaps they are going with the flow, as people increasingly shy away from commitment, particularly to institutions like a local congregation. Maybe their search for an authentic spirituality drew them away from public, formalized expressions of faith.

In the article, Bishop Eaton talks about Martin Luther’s emphasis on a real relationship with God. Authenticity was very important to this man who stood up against the corruption of the Church of his day. The tone of Luther’s relationship with God is like that of the Psalms – filled with honest laments, heartfelt gratitude, grouchiness, repentance, faith.  In his prayer life Luther was both spiritual and religious. He saw the importance of public worship as the Word was heard and Sacraments received. Shared prayers of the people had a unique power. But he also depended upon his private conversations with God.  In both settings God was real for Luther.

I’ve had my own times of disillusionment with the institutional Church. It can be hard to separate the human failings of the institution from the Church as the body of Christ. After years of struggling with this I’ve concluded that we should not throw out the baby with the dirty bath water.  Christ wills for us to be Church together. God wants us to worship, serve, support one another as communities of faith. That’s evident in the Scriptures. A rousing hymn bolsters our faith. God is also eager to hear our private prayers, the aches and joys of our hearts.  God wants you to hear and speak at the deepest level of your being. Such is God’s love for us.

In God’s grace,

Pastor Bob Linstrand