Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We start a new year. Happy New Year.
Recently, I participated in a conversation of give and take in a recounting of the changes in the world we had seen. It is a side effect of age that I had once vowed never to participate in. Yet there is a certain need to recount things such as the bulk and quality of our 19-inch black and white TV to amaze a generation for whom all TV’s are flat, in color, and no smaller than 4 feet. We can argue about whether such changes are good or bad, but the indisputable truth is change occurs and often is necessary. For instance, the world would starve if we relied on the farming technology of my youth.
The same is true of the church. I have often heard voices yearning for older ways and traditions, some for traditions even as recent as “before Covid”. But, for better or for worse, what spoke to one generation does not speak to another. As influential and important as the old Luther League was, it is not coming back. Its fading was not the result of a wrong decision, but of the changes in the society in which it operated. We are still sorting through what we return to after Covid and what will remain in the past.
We do not know what 2023 will bring, but each year brings some change — some too gradual to see; some more visible. With this coming year the ELCA is beginning the process of some form of restructuring. The ELCA is now 35 years old. What worked then has aged. Some would say even at that time, it was too structured based on the past. At any rate, the size, staffing, and structure of the church at various levels are not up to meeting present needs. The Church, Regions, Synods, and Congregations may all be affected. The committee to review the Church is only just forming and so the direction is entirely speculative.
However, it is a recognition that the world changes constantly and for the church, including the Lutheran Church, to be able to speak effectively, it too must change and adapt. 2023 would be a good year to regularly pray for our church and leaders. Change is always a challenge. Some are gradual and have already slowly been a part of who we develop to be. Some come in more deliberate fashion with more thought. It is never easy, but it is a part of life. Pray for your Church in this time of deliberate reflection.
Rev. Martin H. Horn