Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Walls Have Come Down

Several times in recent months I've noted in this blog that I have written so much less this year than previously.  Only a small handful of people seem to have noticed.  I think there have been one or two who have said they miss what I have, in the past, written here frequently.  This past weekend a friend said that he still checks daily to see if I've written anything.  Thanks, Bob, for the encouragement.

Yesterday afternoon I drove to Glencoe to see someone in long term care and then headed into the cities to visit my parents and my aunt Audrey who is here in Minnesota for a week or so.  As I was walking down the hallway to my parents condominium the words came to me: The Walls Have Come Down.

Immediately I posted those words to facebook using twitter.  I then  remembered how, back in 2010, that after a prayer conference one of the participants heard the sound of a great wall crumbling and tumbling and rumbling down.  I wasn't at that prayer conference and don't even know if I remember correctly what I was told, but the spiritual image has stayed with me, though I don't think I've ever written anything about it.

Spiritual walls have fallen in many ways over the past few years.  It's still a work in progress.  I am convinced it is God's work, however, and it cannot be stopped.

God is in the business of setting people free.  We see this as God takes down the dividing wall between himself and us through what Jesus did.  We see this as God turns the hearts of parents to their children.  We see this as people who have hurt one another give one another the most excellent gift: forgiveness in Jesus' name.

God is also in the business of setting people free from fortifications that, at one time, served a good purpose.  Last Sunday evening I shared a message at our community worship service that was, in part, a celebration of how God pulls down our denominational walls at these community worship services.  We looked at scriptures from John 8, First Corinthians 3 and Galatians 3, scriptures that show how religious loyalties get in the way of God's Work.  (You can download my written message, more or less how I preached it on Sunday evening by clicking here or contact me and ask for a copy.)

Here's how this relates to why I haven't been blogging much for the past few months.  Some of my personal walls have come down in a very big way over the past few years.  I would need to write a book to tell the story.  Suffice it to say that in 1980 God called me into the fortress of the American Lutheran Church.  I served in that institution and its successor until 2010.  Two months after I heard about what someone had "heard" at the prayer conference (a wall falling down) there was a major change, and, in some ways, I've been learning where I am now ever since.

I am no longer serving the Lord in a local church that is affiliated with any particular Christian denomination.  Our local church here in Cokato is closely connected with a network of churches that share a Lutheran heritage but are not bound to or confined by it.  The flagship church of the network describes itself as "Sacramental, Spirit-Filled and Evangelical."
from the North Heights website - http://www.nhlc.org/more-info
That pretty much describes us at Crossroads too, though we're still working out what it all means.

The walls have come down.  We are free in Christ.  Some of us at Crossroads would consider us to be Lutheran, others would not.  For me personally, being Lutheran has never been a top priority but I've appreciated and benefited by many things in the Lutheran church.
  • I am thankful for the Lutheran theological tradition because Lutherans have a very high view of the Bible.  The Bible is our foundation for knowing God and God's purpose for our lives. 
  • I appreciate and understand the Biblical foundation of Baptism and Communion from a Lutheran perspective, not that the Lutheran way is the ONLY way of understanding what we have called "sacraments" but truly being thankful for the way a tremendously respectful view of God's Word and God's Power is entailed in those Lutheran teachings.  
  • I'm grateful for the particular form of Lutheranism that embraces the charismatic movement.   This open and fearless form of Lutheranism led ALC president David W. Preus to go to the International Lutheran Conference on the Holy Spirit in 1980 to proclaim that spiritual gifts were welcome and needed in his denomination.
Because the walls have come down there are many things that are open for discussion and review.  Issues that had been settled long ago by denominational authority are now open to question.  We're open to evangelical and charismatic/pentecostal understandings alongside those that have been traditionally Lutheran. 

It's an exciting spiritual place to be in!  We're called to grow more mature in our faith, to learn to stand, in some ways on our own... not alone... but together with other believers we know personally, and together with God.

So I haven't written much recently.  I haven't written much because I knew I needed to get all of this laid out and I knew it would take some time.  I haven't written much because there is always more to do than there is time available.  I haven't written much because, more and more, I'm in need of the personal conversations that will help us gain confidence here in our local church.  And I haven't written much because there is SO much to write about!  When walls come down you can see so much further!  Wow--the possibilities--in Christ--they are endless!

If you appreciate hearing from me in this way, please let me know.  Then I'll probably write more.


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! I always appreciate your posts. This one was particularly well-written and from the heart. Thank you! I love the concept of the walls crumbling down. What a beautiful image for a church like yours that has undergone so much transition and heartache. Jesus is all about breaking down the dividing wall of hostility--between us and God, us and each other (and us and systems!) And what's on the other side? Freedom.