"Caught in the Act," and then his book On Being a Theologian of the Cross, a whole new theological world was opened to me. It was in those months of study in spring 2000 that I became Lutheran by conviction. I realized that not only was I Lutheran because my parents had raised me that way, but the teachings of our church and the theological viewpoints of Luther, Melanchthon and other reformers made sense to me. When I really started to dig into Lutheran theology, I discovered an interpretation of God's creation and our place in it that seemed to fit what I saw all around me. This is how and when I realized I had been fortunate enough to be raised in the faith tradition that closely reflected the way the Spirit was showing me the world as it was. I felt swept up into an understanding of faith and life that included
- Our utter dependence on God for life and faith.
- A fresh understanding of "I believe I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in my Lord Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me with the gospel, enlightened me with its gifts, sanctifies and keeps me in the Christian faith..."
- When God says "You shall have no other gods before me," it's as much a promise and statement of fact as it is a demand (possibly more promise than demand).
- We live in dialectical tension all of our lives:
- simultaneously sinners and saints
- God's kingdom already/not yet here
- Christian freedom, in which we are perfectly free lords of all, subject to none/perfectly dutiful slaves of all, subject to all
- being saved by grace by faith, apart from works of the law / faith without works not being true faith
- Baptism drowning the old sinner in us, putting us to death in our sins, that God might raise a new saint to live and serve daily in Christ's name
This is not to say that everything fell into place in those times. I still struggle with what this all means. And there are a plethora of Lutheran lenses through which we can look at the world - within our own ELCA, we have some serious disagreements on a host of issues, to say nothing of the breaches between this branch of the Lutheran tree and other branches like the LCMS, WELS, LCMC, NALC and all the other bodies out there.
So I'll ask the same question of you: when did you realize that "Lutheran" was more than the name on the sign outside your church building? Who or what helped you realize that "Lutheran" made more sense than any other faith? Or, are you still figuring out that part of your faith? (Note: this does not mean you're not welcome at any Lutheran church, particularly the one I happen to serve. By all means, come with questions. If you're not asking questions, you're not growing in your faith, either!) If you're reading this from another faith perspective, when did that one start to make sense to you?
We are all called to be proclaimers of the good news, by whatever means we have at our disposal. But this means we're called to understand at least a little bit about what that good news is for us, where we are, in our own lives. Take a moment and think about what it is that has made you the person of faith that you are - and share a bit about it if you will. The better we are at telling our own stories, the better we will be able to see where God has been weaving us into the Story that is creation itself.
Blessings to you all,