Have you ever opened your Bible looking for pearls of wisdom and found yourself in The Book of Numbers reading about the number of fighting men Israel had? Or in Genesis reading about how many cubits Noah's Ark had?
When you discover a verse that speaks to you, mark it so that it can speak to you again. Here are some gems that we suggested during our MARK YOUR BIBLE PROGRAM.
Below is a chart of symbols you can use to mark Bible verses.
Makes me sad
I like this/agree
I don’t like this/disagree
Makes me happy
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 71:22)
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to
anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are
forgiven." (Luke 5:20)
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you. (Luke 17:6)
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:17)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
The LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them.
(2 Kings 14:26)
Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. (Psalm 119:153)
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. (Psalm 119:50)
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your
promise to your servant. (Psalm 119:76)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (John 14:1)
I am the LORD, who heals you. (Exodus 15:26c)
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. (Psalm 6:2)
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sin and heals all your diseases… (Psalm 103:2-3)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." (Mark 5:34)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:2)
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
(2 Samuel 22:33)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you. (2 Corinthians 13:4)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
(1 Corinthians 1:25)
He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27)
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3)
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:4)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are
justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
How good and pleasant it is when we live together in unity!
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all
together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14)
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. (Romans 15:5)
LOVE AND MERCY
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and
patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7)
Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:21)
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
Jesus said: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " (Luke 10:27)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the
mountains fall into the heart of the sea, (Psalm 46:2)
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.
"Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." (1 Peter 3:14)
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength… (Isaiah 30:15b&c)
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10)
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are
covered. (Psalm 32:1)
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (Acts 10:43)
Therefore do not be partners with them. (Ephesians 5:7)
The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. (Psalm 37:30)
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of
wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)
Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. (Psalm 119:66)
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united
in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33)
But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in
knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—
see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7)
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13)
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies—make straight your way before me. (Psalm 5:8)
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:15)
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to
righteousness. (Romans 6:18)
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Galations 2:21)
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." (Deuteronomy 20:4)
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
(1 Corinthians 15:54)
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
(1 Corinthians 15:55)
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:3-4)
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that
Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:5)
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
December 1, 2009
ELCA Presiding Bishop to Host Online 'Town Hall Forum' Dec. 6 09-267-JB
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said he will share priorities and hopes for the ELCA, and wants to hear stories from members about the church's work in their own contexts, when he hosts an online "Town Hall Forum" Sunday, Dec. 6. The hour-long forum begins at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time (4:30 p.m. Central Time).
The program will be webcast live from Chicago, where Hanson will be joined by an audience of ELCA members. The audience will ask questions of the presiding bishop. Web viewers can watch the event and submit questions at http://www.ELCA.org/townhall
"I think having this during the season of Advent is an important reminder that when our unity is in Christ, we will always be looking toward God's future in a spirit of 'expectant hopefulness,'" he said. "That's what characterizes my view of the ELCA."
Hanson said he wants to use the forum to build on a conversation he began in a Nov. 19 open letter to ELCA members. In that letter he said that the church stands together in God's grace, "but we are not standing still." Hanson wrote that the ELCA proclaims Jesus Christ and is "fully engaged in this mission by caring actively for the world that God loves.
God's mission is serious work that calls for serious commitment."
Hanson told the ELCA News Service he plans to discuss in the forum how the ELCA is a church "in God's grace going forward in mission, and how that shared commitment to be engaged in mission continues to define who we are in the ELCA."
"I look forward to hearing stories from members participating online of how the Holy Spirit is being poured out upon them and through their congregations," he said. "I also look forward to sharing priorities for our life together in the ELCA."
Hanson said he expects the conversation will include some discussion of what has transpired in the ELCA since the churchwide assembly, which directed changes to the church's ministry policies. Those changes, which created the possibility for people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as clergy and professional lay workers, have caused some disagreement in the ELCA.
"I would hope we can talk about how, in these weeks and months following our churchwide assembly, we have the opportunity to be a church that does not deny our differences on human sexuality, but isn't defined by those differences. It gives us an opportunity to witness to the culture that such questions need not finally separate us," he said.
The Town Hall Forum will also be available for on-demand viewing on the ELCA Web site by the close of business Dec. 7.
The presiding bishop's Nov. 19 open letter and a video resource are at http://www.ELCA.org/faithfulmission on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.elca.org/news ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog
Have you got a Bible question, even an off the wall question? Ask your question here and I'll do my best to respond. Remember no qestion is a dumb question and if you are wondering, someone else is probably wondering too.
If you ask you have to tell us what you think too. (No long theses please!)
The following was a lost post from last summer but it is still good news.
A God Moment for Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
We had set a goal of $400,000 in pledges to be paid over 3 years. This would be about 1/3 of the cost of our proposed renovation and building project. . It seemed to be a huge challenge. More than once I heard people say, “We can’t do this on our own.” And they were correct. On our own—no. With the help of God—yes. By now you know the results. As I write this we are at $726,000. Celebration Sunday was a God moment for all of us to witness. Only by the Grace of God!
I believed we would reach our goal, as did most of our leadership, but to exceed it by an additional 80% is remarkable—exiting—thrilling—unnerving. Instead of jumping up and down with excitement, like they do on Deal or no Deal, my knees shook and I felt a sense of deep gratitude and awe. It was Pentecost Sunday and the Holy Spirit blew into our congregation. Something holy had happened here. Together, we shared a profound God moment.
Faith in Action was never about raising money alone. Rather, it was about raising faith. Many of you have shared with me your pledge stories of how you decided what to pledge, what to sacrifice, what your children or your parents or you neighbors learned from your commitment, who inspired you, why you changed your mind and more. Hearing these stories is one of the privileges of being your pastor. Others would be blessed by hearing your Faith in Action stories too. Would you be willing to tell us about it on this blog?
Has Faith in Action produced a God Moment in your life? Tell us about it here.
The Eleventh Biennial Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was held Aug. 17-23, 2009 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,300 people participated, including 1,045 voting members. The theme was “God's work. Our hands."
Full Communion with the United Methodist Church Adopted
By a vote of 958-51, the assembly adopted a full communion agreement with the United Methodist Church (UMC). This is the ELCA’s sixth full-communion relationship and the first for the UMC. The assembly also established a joint commission to oversee the relationship by a vote of 922-15. In 2008 the UMC General Conference adopted the same proposal. Full communion means that the two churches identify in one another a common Christian faith; agree to mutual recognition of Baptism and the sharing of Holy Communion; worship together and recognize each other's ordained ministers for service in either church; express a common commitment to evangelism, witness and service; engage in common decision-making on critical matters; and agree to a mutual lifting of criticisms that may exist between the churches.
Carlos Peña Re-elected Vice President
Vice President Carlos Peña of Galveston, Texas, was elected on the fourth ballot to a second six-year term as vice president with 580 votes, 60.8 percent of the votes cast. Peña was elected over Ryan M. Schwarz, McLean, Va., who received 264 votes, and Norma J. Hirsch, Des Moines, Iowa, who received 110 votes. There were 97 nominees on the first ballot.
HIV and AIDS Funding Proposal Adopted
The assembly voted 884-41 to approve a proposal to raise $10 million over three years to support this church's HIV and AIDS strategy. A $1 million goal encouraged by the 2007 Churchwide Assembly will be included in the $10 million. The ELCA Church Council approved the strategy in March.
Development of Lutheran Malaria Initiative Approved
By a vote of 989-11, the assembly approved continued development of an initiative to fight malaria, particularly in Africa. The Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) is a shared effort with Lutheran World Relief (LWR), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the United Nations Foundation. The assembly authorized continued receipt of gifts designated for the LMI, and asked that a report and recommendations for a possible churchwide LMI campaign be brought to the 2011 assembly.
Social Statement, "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust," Adopted
The assembly adopted by a vote of 676-338 -- precisely two-thirds of those voting -- “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” the ELCA’s 10th social statement, with editorial amendments. It also adopted 15 implementing resolutions by a vote of 695-285. The social statement is a theological and teaching document that builds on the key Lutheran principles of justification by grace and Christian freedom to serve the neighbor. It emphasizes that central to our vocation, in relation to human sexuality, is the building and protection of trust in relationships. It therefore affirms that we are called to be trustworthy in our human sexuality and to build social institutions and practices in which trust and trustworthy relationships can thrive. The social statement addresses, among other topics, marriage, same-gender relationships, families, protecting children, friendships, commitment, social responsibility and moral discernment. Regarding same-gender committed relationships, the social statement recognizes that members of this church are not in agreement and identifies the different perspectives that are present among us.
Ministry Policies Resolutions Adopted
Voting members adopted resolutions proposed by the Church Council based on those contained in a “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies.” The assembly determined on August 17 that majority votes were required on each resolution for adoption. The actions direct that changes be made to churchwide policy documents to make it possible for people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders in the ELCA. The assembly adopted the resolutions in the following order:
Resolution 3: Adopted by a vote of 771-230 as amended: “Resolved, that in the implementation of any resolutions on ministry policies, the ELCA commit itself to bear one another's burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all."
Resolution 1: Adopted by a vote of 619-402: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”
Resolution 2: Adopted by a vote of 559-451: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.”
Resolution 4: Adopted by a vote of 667-307 as amended: This resolution called upon members to respect the bound consciences of those with whom they disagree; declared the intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making about candidacy and the call process; eliminated the prohibition of rostered service by members in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; recognized and committed to respect the conviction of members who believe that the ELCA should not call or roster people in committed same-gender relationships; called for development of accountability guidelines; directed that appropriate amendments to ministry policy documents be drafted and approved by the Church Council; and urged that this church continue to trust congregations, bishops, synods and others responsible for determining who should be called into public ministry.
More information about the social statement and the ministry policies resolutions is at http://www.elca.org/faithfuljourney/faq on the Web.
Budget Proposals for 2010, 2011 Adopted
By a vote of 863-71 voting members adopted churchwide budget proposals for 2010 and 2011. For 2010, voting members approved a current fund income proposal of $76.69 million for the churchwide organization and an ELCA World Hunger Appeal income proposal of $18.7 million. For 2011, they approved a current income proposal of $76.78 million and a World Hunger income goal of $19 million.
Social Statement on Justice for Women to be Developed
By a vote of 754-176 the assembly approved development of a social statement on the topic, to be considered by the 2015 Churchwide Assembly.
Assembly Adopts Memorials
+ Immigration: Adopted 873-82. The assembly called for comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policies and processes, called for suspension of immigration raids until reform is enacted, and asked for a message on immigration this year.
+ Lutheran Disaster Response: Adopted 929-20. The assembly acknowledged this collaborative ministry of the ELCA and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and acknowledged that a strategic planning process for LDR is underway. It encouraged the ELCA “to continue to deepen and develop its process for working together with churchwide units, synods and social ministry organizations in times of specific disasters.” The assembly asked for a progress report to be presented to the Church Council in 2010, and amended the proposal to recommend creation of a permanent LDR advisory committee.
+ Israel/Palestine: Adopted 690-125. Voting members resolved to advocate on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. They called the ELCA to lift up the voices within both communities, especially those who are victims of violence. The resolution also calls for care for the people of Gaza, and support for U.S. financial assistance that funds “peace and cooperation for all parties to the conflict.” An amendment to the memorial called for the ELCA to “evaluate and refine its peace-making efforts to demonstrate as fully as possible the balanced care for all parties” expressed in the "Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine."
+ Worship, liturgical materials in Braille: Adopted 926-10. This memorial called for affirmed and celebrated materials being provided to people with impaired vision, acknowledged funding challenges and limits for this work, and asked for a report to the Church Council in 2010.
+ Project Connect: Adopted 919-19. The memorial recognized "the immense contribution of communities of color within and beyond this church," encouraged those involved with Project Connect to share learnings with the wider church, renewed the ELCA's commitment to confront racism, and encouraged review of factors that inhibit people of color from "the fullness of leadership in this church."
+ Human disability message: Adopted 785-88. The assembly declined to authorize development of a social statement on human disability, but requested that the Church in Society program unit instead consider development of a message on human disability.
In addition, the assembly en bloc referred other memorials to the Church Council or churchwide units for response.
Assembly Adopts, Refers Resolutions
+ Health care reform: Adopted 799-126. The resolution provides that “each person should have ready access to basic health care services that include preventive, acute and chronic physical and mental health care at an affordable cost." The assembly requested that the urgency and sense of the resolution be communicated to Congress and the White House.
+ Batak Special Interest Conference: Adopted 845-15. The action strikes from the ELCA's bylaws reference to the "Batak Special Interest Conference of North America," a move supported by Batak members of the Indonesian ministries of the ELCA.
+ Thanks: The assembly also adopted resolutions expressing appreciation ELCA churchwide leaders and staff, plus local hosts and the people of the Twin Cities. Other resolutions regarding mission funding, wills and living trusts, and a study on "bound conscience" were referred to the Church Council or churchwide units for response.
Twelfth Biennial Assembly
AUGUST 14-20, 2011
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 19, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS(ELCA) -- The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the
Churchin America (ELCA) adopted "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" with a vote of 676 (66.67 percent) to 338 (33.33 percent) on Aug. 19. The passing of the social statement on human sexuality required a two-thirds vote.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the
Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "God's work. Our hands."
Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust is the denomination's 10th social statement. It addresses a spectrum of topics relevant to human sexuality from a Lutheran perspective.
Social statements "guide us as we step forward as a public church because they form the basis for both this church's public policy and my public speech as presiding bishop," the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, told the assembly.
An ad hoc committee addressed 13 proposals to amend the social statement from voting members and 42 "memorials" or resolutions from the 65 synods of the ELCA. They ranged from editorial amendments to changing the intent and coherence of the existing text.
With a 303 to 667 vote, voting members defeated an amendment to replace a section of the social statement about "lifelong monogamous same-gender relationships" -- a section that identifies the issues within the denomination about homosexuality, describing a range of widely articulated views. The proposed replacement language reflected the position of some in the church that believe the "practice of homosexual erotic behavior as contrary to God's intent."
The ad hoc committee recommended that the amendment not be adopted, since the position articulated implies "a consensus that no longer exists."
After considering 6 of the 13 amendments, voting members moved to accept the recommendations of the ad hoc committee on all other amendments and moved to consider the adoption of the social statement.
Speaking in favor of adoption of the statement, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod, said she hopes the assembly does not become "so narrowly focused on the issue of homosexual sexual behavior that we missed the point that we're speaking a clear word that needs to be heard by our culture," particularly on topics about co-habitation outside of marriage, sex as a commodity, child pornography and more. She said the church has high expectations for all Lutherans, especially for ELCA professional leaders.
Speaking in opposition, voting member Curtis Sorbo, ELCA Eastern North Dakota Synod, said the social statement "should be a teaching tool. I don't think that it is. Instead we have descriptions of different sexual relationships that we are asked to accept by bound conscience," he said. "We are asked to affirm a description of sexuality in today's culture because of a new reality. Our church needs to address this issue based on the authority of the word of God, not a description of public opinion and personal desires."
"We took some risks in the writing of this in ways that we thought were appropriate for these times," the Rev. Peter Strommen said in a news conference following the plenary.
The statement was structured from a standpoint of "love of the neighbor and trust," he said.
Strommen served as chair of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality, which developed the social statement under the directive of the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
In response to the vote on the statement's adoption Strommen said, "I doubt very much that I've ever been present at an election with that many votes cast coming out exactly two-thirds. Quite stunning," he said. "We're naturally very glad that it passed."
"I am very proud of this church," the Rev. Rebecca S. Larson, executive director,
Churchin Society, said at the news conference. "It is a time of diminished joy," she said. "We know there is suffering all around on this issue."
- - -
Information about the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog
Pastoral Response Following the Ministry Policies Decision
Made to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly
by Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
August 21, 2009
After the ministry policies vote on Friday evening, Presiding
Bishop Mark S. Hanson delivered the following message:
I want to share some words. As one you have called to serve
as pastor of this church, I have been standing here thinking about
my 23 years as a parish pastor and how differently I would go
into various contexts. Gathering with a family or a group of
people who had just experienced loss, or who perhaps were
wondering if they still belonged, or in fact felt deeply that ones
to whom they belong had been severed from them, I would
probably turn to words such as Romans 8:
Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes,
who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who
indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the
love of Christ? [. . .] For I am convinced that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate
us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Romans 8:34–35, 38–39).
But then I thought, what if I were going into a family, a
group, or a community that had always wondered if they
belonged, and suddenly now had received a clear affirmation that
they belonged? All of the wondering about the dividing walls
and feelings of separation seem to have dropped away. That
would be a very different conversation. I would probably read
to them out of Ephesians:
But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he
is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into
one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the
hostility between us. [. . .] In him, the whole structure
is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the
Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually
into a dwelling place for God (Ephesians 2:13–14,
But then I thought, what if those two groups were together,
but also in their midst were those who had neither experienced
loss nor the feeling of the dividing wall of separation coming
down, but were worried whether all that had occurred might
sever the unity that is ours in Christ, and might be wondering if
their actions might have contributed to reconciliation or
separation? If all those people were together in a room, I would
read from Colossians:
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe
yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if
anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each
other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also
must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which
indeed you were called in the one body. And be
thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with
gratitude in your hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and
spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word
or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him
That passage gives invitation and expectation that those
deeply disappointed today will have the expectation and the
freedom to continue to admonish and to teach in this church.
And so, too, those who have experienced reconciliation today are
called to humility. You are called to clothe yourselves with love.
But we are all called to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts,
remembering again and again that we are called in the one body.
I will invite you tomorrow afternoon into important, thoughtful,
prayerful conversations about what all of this means for our life
together. But what is absolutely important for me is that we have
the conversation together.
I ended my oral report with these words: “We finally meet
one another not in our agreements or our disagreements, but at
the foot of the cross, where God is faithful, where Christ is
present with us, and where, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we
are one in Christ.”
Let us pray. Oh, God, gracious and holy, mysterious and
merciful, we meet this day at the foot of the cross, and there we
kneel in gratitude and awe that you have loved us so much that
you would give the life of your son so that we might have life in
his name. Send your Spirit this night, the Spirit of the risen
Christ that has been breathed into us. May it calm us. May your
Spirit unite us. May it continue to gather us. In Jesus’ name,
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ;
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
By now you may have heard of the decisions of our on-going Churchwide Assembly
regarding issues of human sexuality. We have:
~passed the Human Sexuality Social Statement.
~passed the “Bound Conscience” resolution.
~passed a resolution allowing our church to create a rite for the blessing of samesex,
long-term, monogamous relationships.
~passed a resolution allowing our church to ordain persons in a same-sex, longterm,
~passed a resolution attempting to set all this in order for our future life together.
These actions have been greeted with many emotions as you know. Some are heartbroken.
Some are filled with joy. Many are somewhere in between.
It will be good for all our leaders and members to take a bit of a breath over this. Please
~Turn the matter over to prayer between you and God.
~Find prayer partners to pray with for God’s wisdom and guidance.
~Use public worship opportunities to pray as a community of faith.
~Talk in small groups with others you respect.
~Gather information and facts. Share conversation with others.
~Talk with those who see things differently and pray together.
~Turn to God in prayer and faith again and again that you may be gifted with the
peace of Christ in all that you do and say.
Upon my return please know that I am most willing to gather with congregational
leaders, Conferences, Clusters, Rostered Leaders and congregations as we live together in
My prayers are with you. The hope of Christ is with you. As the writer of Ephesians
“Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head,
into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament
from which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s
growth in building itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Remember, the world watches us now to see how we will respond. Let us respond with
the confidence of Christ and the promise of his unchanging grace in all that we do and
say. Peace be with you+
In Christ’s Undying Love,
Bishop James A. Justman
B Pentecost 9 09 2 Sam 11:26-12:13 a
August 2, 2009
Our story of David continues today. For those who have been away for a few weeks, let’s remember that initially David and God had a close relationship. With God’s blessing:
q David defeats the giant Goliath with a slingshot and5 smooth stones
q He survives King Saul’s murder attempts,
q Wins battle after battle
q Becomes king, unites a divided kingdom
q Brings the arc of the covenant to
But then begins a downward spiral—for David, sin is a slippery slope.
David takes a number of wives, makes political decisions based on his own desire for power and pleasure.
Loses track of God’s direction in his life and
today, we come to the story of David and Bathsheba.
It’s the spring of the year, a time for men to go off to war but David has stayed home rather than lead the troops. Again he’s bored, without purpose.
He looks out his window and sees Bathsheba bathing (As I understand it, this is where and when women would bathe so David should not have been looking out the window in the first place.
He knew what he was doing and he sees Bathsheba, bathing.
David starts imagining…”What If…?”
He wants her. He already has wives and sons but he wants this woman, this other man’s wife, as his own. He’s tempted and he indulges that temptation and asks about her.
What was going through his mind?
Maybe he rationalizes, “Poor Bathsheba, husband at war, she’s all alone.”
Maybe he deceives himself, “None of my wives are love matches, none would make good queens for this kingdom. I’m the king I deserve to be happy too This must be what God wants. I mean there she is like a gift from God.”
Or maybe, he just didn’t think. Certainly he did not consult God.
We don’t know, but as readers of this Bible story we see the sin right way…but David does not. He’s King. He’s lost sight of God’s expectations. He’s presuming on God’s favor. He’s already on that slippery slope and he does not recognize his feelings and actions for what they really are: selfishness, greed, rebellion.
David should have fled that window and refocused his attention on God’s love and God’s purpose for his life. However the temptation of personal happiness is nearly irresistible and eventually David sleeps with Bathsheba; she gets pregnant; David tries to trick her husband but fails; So, David has Uriah killed in battle and takes Bathsheba as his wife…and their son dies.
God is not happy. Hear now the rest of the story.
Read 2 Sam11:26-12:13a
David and Bathsheba, what a tragic story! Yet it’s a story that is played out every day in our culture.
q 60% of marriages end in divorce.
q Second or third marriages have only about 20% of couples remaining happily married. A full 80% of repeat marriages end in divorce.
q Over one million children watch their parents divorce each year, and half of the babies born this year will suffer through the divorce of their parents before they turn 18.
q Births to unmarried women have reached 39.7%
q Finally, there are more partners in the personal lives of Americans than in the lives of people of any other western country.
I know that divorce, at times, can be necessary, especially in the case of abuse and/or for the health and safety of the children. I am also well aware that it often only takes one spouse to set a divorce into motion. However there is still no denying that the rising divorce rates signals religious and societal issues.
Divorce may be necessary in some cases but it is still painful for all involved and leaves lasting consequences. This was true for David and Bathsheba and it is true for us. When a couple gets divorced,
both feel the pain,
both their extended families are hurt, the friends and co-workers and neighbors are hurt
but most importantly their children are hurt.
And according to Why Marriage Matters in the July 13th edition of Time Magazine, the children of divorce are hurt far more than most of us realized. According to mountains of research, on every significant outcome related to short-term wellbeing and long-term success, children from intact, two-parent families outperform those from single-parent households. Longevity, drug abuse, school performance and dropout rates, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior and incarceration…in all cases the kids living with two parents drastically outperform the others…. Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents’ race or educational backgrounds.
What I want you to hear is that there is good reason for God’s intention of intact families and that this reason is not antiquated but speaks to us today. As one author put it, Children have a primal need to know who they are, to love and be loved by the two people whose physical union brought them here. To loose connection, that sense of identity, is to experience a wound that no child-support check or fancy school can ever heal.
The story of David and Bathsheba has a lot o teach us:
First of all-David should have run from the temptation: How do we do that?
Pray! Pray hard and ask God to help you stay away from people, places, situations or self indulgent thinking that may tempt you.
Ponder! Look inward. Ask yourself often “why am I doing this or thinking this way—what is my weakness?
Confess! What is my sin. (When I meet with couples contemplating divorce I ask each what their own particular sin ha been to bring them to this point—they always can name the sins of the other spouse but find it extremely difficult to name their own. Yes there is forgiveness and grace—That should give us the confidence and strength to look deep into our own souls. But don’t presume on God’s forgiveness—you know what I mean? Like: It doesn’t matter what I do. I’m going to get this divorce anyway and I know that in the end God will forgive me.
Get help! From a fellow Christian (of the same sex by the way…or you will have a new temptation!) Talk to your pastor, your small group and go to counseling.
Change your behavior. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Change your behavior first, your feelings will follow.
To be honest, feelings are not all that trustworthy.
You know what the commandments say—follow them.
Finally Live in hope—successful or not, married or divorced, children or none, live in hope.
God will not abandon you in this process.
God was not happy but God did not abandon David and Bathsheba.
The consequences of their sin, cost them the life of their child, and affected every relationship they had later but God did not abandon them. David and Bathsheba once again found favor with God. We know that they are the parents of the wisest king of
Israel, King Solomon, and that to the house of David was born our savior, Jesus Christ.
In our Gospel lesson we read that Jesus is the bread that fills our hunger. Jesus is the bread that satisfies. When we are feeling unsatisfied with life or people when we are casting about for something new, different, something to make you happy, look to Jesus.
Some of you are not married now or perhaps never have been but certainly you have been touched by the divorce of a family member or friend.
Some of you are children of divorce and trying to cope with its pain. Know that you are a loved member of God’s family and that there are loving people who can fill that void for you-a grand parent, a Sunday school teacher. God will not abandon you and that you can stop the cycle of divorce.
You may be happily married right now and have 3 loving kids. Remember there will still be temptations. A lasting marriage is the reward, usually of hard work and self-sacrifice. In the end marriage is about commitment not love. However where there is commitment love blooms again.
You may be contemplating an affair or divorce right now. I hope my words have encouraged you to rethink your motivations and actions. Talk to one of your pastors or some other committed Christian if you need help. Sometimes divorce is the better choice of two bad situations but not usually.
And of course I do know that many of you have been divorced. I hope that what you have heard here rings true and that you find God’s love and acceptance, forgiveness and hope in the bread of life, the bread that satisfies all of our longings—Jesus Christ. This is the promise of the cross—no brokenness is beyond the healing power of Christ. From whatever death you have experienced, there can be new life and new beginnings.
Preaching on divorce is extremely dangerous. Did I say what I wanted to say? Did you hear what I intended you to hear. Did you hear God’s law? Did you hear the gospel?
All preaching is risk. However, I am open for conversation and I’ll be posting this sermon on my blog so that we can discuss it there.
Please stand for prayer.
In the words of our marriage service, let us pray for all families throughout the world:
Gracious Father, you bless the family and renew your people. Enrich husbands and wives, parents and children more and more with your grace, that, strengthening and supporting each other, they may serve those in need and be a sign of the fulfillment of your perfect kingdom Today we especially those who have asked for our prayers:
This we pray in the name of Jesus, who is the good news of the gospel. Amen.
July 1, 2009 Dear colleagues in ministry, As we approach the churchwide assembly, I am thankful for the thoughtful and respectful discussion at synod assemblies of the proposed social statement on human sexuality and the ministry policy recommendations. I am mindful, however, that we remain a church body that is not of one mind about these decisions, and that these continuing differences have raised concerns among some about whether we are headed toward a church-dividing decision. I am writing to express my shared, heartfelt commitment to the church’s unity, and, even more, my deep confidence that this unity will not be lost. For this reason please join me in reflecting on the unity of Christ’s church that is the foundation both for our life together in the ELCA and our relationships with other Christians throughout the world. The unity of Christ’s church is God’s daily work through the Holy Spirit calling, gathering, enlightening and sanctifying us with the gospel. Sometimes, when I hear concerns about division in the ELCA, I worry that they express a fear that unity depends on the actions of church leaders or assemblies. Our unity, however, comes to us because God gives it freely and undeservedly in Jesus Christ. Although everyone in leadership shares responsibility for stewarding our unity in Christ, it will not be won or lost at the churchwide assembly in a plenary session vote. Rather, it will be received as a gracious gift from God when the assembly is gathered each noon by the Word and Sacrament through which God gives us unity, making us one in Jesus Christ. We hold in common this confession that God makes us one in Jesus Christ, but it is not making this confession that makes us one. Rather, because God unites us to Jesus Christ in Baptism we are also united to each other in one body that transcends any other difference. Paul states this clearly. “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). A marvelous insight into this unity was made recently during a Bible study as members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Executive Committee took turns reading Paul’s familiar words about the body of Christ in their own languages. The differences were fascinating. Several read, “all the members of the body, though many, are one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12). Others read, “all the members of the body, being many, are one body.” Our Bible study leader suggested that “though many” implies that our “many-ness” (that is, our diversity or differences) is a problem that compromises the unity of the body of Christ. But, “being many” within the Body of Christ implies that diversity is unity’s strength, not its weakness. The witness of Scripture is that both unity and diversity are God’s gifts. There is one Spirit, one Baptism, one faith, one Lord of us all, but a variety of gifts and callings are given for the sake of the gospel and the common good. God’s gift of unity in Christ informs our life and witness together in the community of Christ’s church. Rather than approach the assembly apprehensively, I invite you to see it as an opportunity for faith-filled witness to the larger human family that struggles with division and yearns for healing and wholeness that is real and true. We live in a polarized culture that equates unity with uniformity and sees differences as a reason for division. This moment, and our witness as a church body in the midst of it, deserves something better from us. We have the opportunity to offer the witness of our unity in Christ—diverse, filled with different-ness and differences, broken in sin, and yet united and whole in Christ. This moment deserves the witness of a community that finds and trusts its unity in Christ alone, engages one another with respect, and seeks a communal discernment of the Spirit’s leading. In recent weeks I have been re-reading Bonhoeffer’s Life Together where he writes, “God already has laid the only foundation of our community, because God has united us in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ long before we entered into common life with them.” He says that other Christians who may be different and yet live by God’s call, forgiveness, and promise are a gift and a reason to give thanks. He continues with this remarkable insight about all of us and the unifying power of Christ’s forgiveness: Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the common life, is not the one who sins still a person with whom I too stand under the Word of Christ? Will not another Christian’s sin be an occasion for me ever anew to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Therefore, will not the very moment of great disillusionment with my brother or sister be incomparably wholesome for me because it so thoroughly teaches me that both of us can never live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and deed that really binds us together, the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ? (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 5, pp. 36-37.) Some may question why I am writing and wonder if this letter is advocating for a particular position on the questions before the churchwide assembly. It is not. Rather, it is an honest expression of my conviction that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s mission for the life of the world, and the members of this church deserve this witness from us: In Christ we are members of one body serving God’s mission for the life of the world. As we approach the Assembly, I invite you to join me in confident hope, grounded in Christ, where we meet one another not in our agreements or disagreements, but at the foot of the cross. We meet as we hear the Word, confess our faith, receive Christ’s presence in bread and wine, sing our praises to God, make our offerings, and then go in peace, to share the Good News, remember the poor and serve the Lord. God is faithful. Christ is with us. By the power of the Spirit we are one in him. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:31) In God’s grace, The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America