Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thinking about God's Work on May Day

When we were at the Create in Me retreat, Bishop Gordy spent part of Friday afternoon rocking with us on the porch.  What a wonderful thing to have deep discussions with the bishop of the Southeastern Synod.

We talked about the need for Lutheran churches to know their communities, all the better to serve them.  Now this knowing them doesn't mean we'll convert them.  He gave a great story as an example.

He talked about a Lutheran church with 3 female pastors.  One was a typical, second career ELCA pastor.  One was a pastor doing Hispanic ministry, in Spanish, I assume, and one was from Tanzania.  Their church was in the middle of a changing suburb, so they went out to meet the people of the neighborhood.

Much to their surprise, they realized that the neighborhood was now composed primarily of Iraqi Kurdish refugees.  Now, these refugees wouldn't be returning to their home country.  But unlike refugees of some past times of migration, they wouldn't be converting to the religion of their new country.  They were Muslim, with every intention of remaining so.

The three female pastors discovered that they still had a ministry role to play.  They were invited into the homes of the refugees precisely because they were women; male pastors would not have been invited into the homes.  They discovered that the Kurdish women appreciated their help in assimilation issues.

Their ministry role?  To explain the new country (the U.S.) to the refugees.  In doing so, they strengthened the neighborhood and their church's ties to the neighborhood.

It's not the kind of ministry we always think about doing, when we think about what churches are called to do.  But it's important work nonetheless.

So, on this May Day, this International Worker's Day, let's celebrate the new ways that our work in the world can lead to peace.  Let's celebrate the work in the world that we need to do as God's hands in the world.

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