I'm going to try to tackle a subject about which I know very little.
Yesterday I posted that we joined a new congregation. If you've been here for any length of time, you know that we are Missouri Synod Lutherans. Years ago, when I was a baby, my parents attended ALC Lutheran churches. I was baptized at this one, and remember attending this one when I was as young as 2. It was where I was confirmed, married, and we had three of our children. John was baptized there. When we'd been married about 6 years, the ALC ceased to exist, becoming part of the ELCA. Our congregation at Prince of Peace enthusiastically joined the ELCA, and we continued in that branch of Lutheranism for about 5 years.
Not long after our kids started school, we noticed some failings in our local public school system, and moved them from that system to a Lutheran school. In time, we realized that, theologically, our family agreed more with the LCMS than we did with the ELCA, and we made the leap to yet another synod. This was not done lightly, nor without much conflict. We actually lost friends when we did this, as they saw us, in their eyes, becoming "narrow minded" and "insular." It was not an easy time, or a comfortable one, but then, matters of religion never are. If they were, I've always figured, that would be a tip-off that we might be going the wrong way. The Devil never makes trouble for people who are heading in his direction, after all. The sticking point for us was the inerrency of Scripture. (How do you spell that word that means "no errors"? Spell check is no help!) When we started hearing, "Well, God didn't really mean this," we headed on down the road. And it's been a blessing for our family to have done so.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, it turns out, has conflict within it's own ranks. Gee, there's a surprise. The Church is full of sinners. Whoda thunk? There are liberal theologians in the LCMS, very conservative ones, and everything in between. We've always fallen somewhere in the middle, influenced, no doubt, buy those years in the ELCA. (For the non-Lutheran, this "alphabet soup" of synods is really confusing. I am sorry, and you are to be commended if you've followed along this far!) Dealing with the conflict in the LCMS has been a point of growth for us, something that has pained us and nurtured us at the same time. The congregation in which we have been worshipping for the past 13 years is on one side of the conflict. We always felt that we should shop, worship, work, and "hang out" in the community where our post office is located. Over the years, it has been a joy to do so, to have the people ringing my groceries ask me about my church, because I'm "the customer," and not, "the church lady." Lately, though, we've been increasingly uncomfortable in this congregation, where worship seems something to be "gotten done with," some families seem more "worthy" than others, and, in the words of a 16 year-old, the pastor "doesn't have any respect for the Sacraments." When the 16 year-old is your daughter, you take those words seriously.
So, yesterday, we stood up in front of another congregation and promised to support the pastor and the work of that group of Lutherans. We're not silly enough to believe that this place won't have sinners, conflicts, and troubles of it's own. But the pastor has respect for the Sacraments, and that's a good place to be. Besides, he thinks our daughter is pretty cool. We do, too, and it's important to us that she see respect given where it's due. So a new adventure begins for us. Just when we were beginning to think we were old enough to avoid adventure....