Ferman Woodberry of Salem Lutheran Church in Jackson stood before a group of more than 400 fellow Lutherans Friday afternoon in the Redwood Valley Fieldhouse in Redwood Falls making a pitch to serve as synod council vice-president – an election he would win.
More than that he shared a his vision for the synod that reflected the theme of the Southwest Minnesota Synod of the ELCA assembly being held that weekend.
Woodberry said when he went to the Lutheran Church for the first time he said the experience was not positive. Undaunted, he tried again at a different church, adding when he walked through the door he met a group of ladies who greeted him and even invited him to sit with them during the service.
For Woodberry, that is what a church is supposed to be like, but he added that should not be limited to happening inside the walls of the church. It needs to be lived out in the world, he added.
That idea of living out one’s faith every day was what Synod Bishop Jon Anderson stressed was the idea behind the assembly’s theme of “Everyday Spirituality.”
During his report to the assembly June 7, Anderson talked about that idea, adding the Christian life can be a good life. Anderson shared that during a trip he made to Scandinavia he learned about the Pietist movement and showed those assembled a painting of some who were part of that movement. The painting reflected a somber look on the faces of the people portrayed.
It’s easy for us to critique that painting, said Anderson, adding he wonders if those who profess the Christian faith in modern days are really any different in the way they live their lives every day.
A life of faith is connected to every day, said Anderson, adding that Christians need to be reminded of how much God loves them regularly. That reminder should help Christians find that joy.
Finding that good life begins by putting the cross at the center, said Anderson, adding a cross-centered life trusts in God’s grace. Anderson said understanding the concept of grace is about grasping the ideas of justification, which he said is God’s action and not man’s, and vocation, which is man’s response to what God has done.
Living an everyday spirituality is not limited to one thing, but must be lived out in all aspects of life, Anderson told the assembly.
How does that manifest itself practically?
Deanna Thompson, who teaches religion at Hamline University, offered a Bible study based on I Corinthians 12:12-27, and as part of that discussion she encouraged those in attendance to focus on the virtual opportunities in life.
The church of the 21st Century must be a digital church, Thompson said.
Her own example of use of a Caring Bridge site online during a bout with cancer demonstrated how the church community demonstrated God’s grace in a real way.
Learn more about the synod and the assembly at swmnelca.org.