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Thursday Reflections....
 

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thank you for the amazing turnout last night as we gathered to pray, listen to music, readings and reflections from one another about all that happened in Washington, DC yesterday. I was moved, comforted, challenged and strengthened for the days and years to come. This is church at its best, the Body of Christ caring for one another and finding strength for the living of these days.

Below I'm sharing the email we received this morning from Bishop Gohl along with other opportunities from our Synod. Below that is Bishop Sutton's response. I look forward to seeing you all on Zoom Church on Sunday at 10:30 am as we remember the Baptism of Jesus and renew our own commitment to follow his way of love. I'll send out another email Saturday with links.

I'm so grateful for each and every one of you.

Faithfully yours,

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. – Isaiah 60:1-12

On Wednesday morning I was in Washington, DC. I was there at the invitation of Bishop Leila Ortiz, my colleague in our neighboring synod. We gathered with a small group of ecumenical clergy, and pastoral colleagues, to pray for peace, and reconciliation, and healing for our burdened, wearied and sin-sick world, and nation; standing together, even as we were to be witnessing what is supposed to be the peaceful transfer of power, a hallmark of our democracy for nearly 250 years. As we prayed over the course of three hours, there were people of every political stripe and persuasion streaming through the streets, headed toward the White House, the Mall, the Capital; many carrying flags, and signs, and banners - not with one message, but a powerful reminder that in the United States, we are free to speak our truths, that our voices are a protected right of what it means to be an American.
 
It was like being in a warp, as we stood in a circle on the lawn of our church breathing, keeping silence, praying – all as people streamed by, at different speeds, with varying degrees of urgency and determination. Some stopped, and prayed alongside of us, gathered at 
Luther Place Memorial Church, and in those moments, for an instant, we were community; not defined by the party to which we are affiliated, with but a common reliance on God, the healer, reconciler, the merciful broker of justice for all. It was insanely political, but it wasn't partisan. We didn't pray to the God of the Republicans, the Democrats, the Green, the Libertarians, or the Independents. We prayed to our God, the creator of us all. We prayed in the name of Jesus, who's will it is to unite us. We did stand beside a sign that had previously been desecrated, a sign that declares the sacred worth of black and brown lives in a year where there has been so much death and loss that has been amplified in communities of color; where magnified loss has been so much a part of the narrative of those communities in our nation, too.

But even as there were those times when people stopped to pray, or to watch, or to keep silence; there were others who stopped to yell at us, to curse us, spit at us – and the most grotesque display was perpetrated by three men, who very purposely charged our gathering. They rushed to the Luther monument, one laid on the ground wearing an animal print vest over a black t-shirt that said “George Floyd.” With sense of mockery, that man profaned George Floyd's name with the word, “nig*er,” while his other buddy pretended to kneel on his neck; and the third guy snapped a picture. And then we saw them go across the street, and do it again, on the steps of National Christian Church. It was appalling, it was racist, it was evil. It was an attempt to provoke our gathering, our peaceful, prayerful gathering on the church lawn, to provoke a response other than prayer.
 
But it was more than that. It was to perpetuate a narrative of demeaning the personhood of others, not recognizing the very image of God that is deeply imbued in all of us – one of the central themes at the heart of our Christmas celebration.
 
As our gathering this morning scattered to keep prayerful vigils at home and online, our Republic was dealt a crushing blow by those, who under the guise of peaceful protests, overran the Capital Building and took the Senate chamber; further profaning the rights, personhood, the dignity, the work, and calling of others. This isn't partisan politics, it was evil unleashed – and the church cannot remain silent.
 
Isaiah is right. The gloom is real, as is the sinfulness shielded by its shadows. The losses are real. The challenges are real. The division in our hearts, and our nation – they are real, too.
 
Beloved, we can’t simply whitewash over the events of this day – and all that has brought us here – with talk of the light. Indeed, even as we proclaim, “the light shines,” “the Sun of righteousness is among us,” “the dawn has come,” there is work, heavy work still to be done.
 
As the magi offered their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; perhaps the gift that we are being called to offer this year is humility. Not apathy, not silence, but genuine humility that allows us to tell our truth, to hear others, to believe that the dawn has come in Jesus Christ, and to get serious; serious again about bearing that good news to all the world, including those whom, in our hearts, we find most difficult to love.
 
And not simply in our words, but in our deeds; for the sake of this world God still so loves.
 

This is an excerpt from Bishop Gohl’s sermon on the Feast of the Epiphany, you may read it in its entirety here or view it on the Epiphany (Baltimore) Facebook page.
 
Delaware-Maryland Synod King Commemoration
On Sunday, January 17 at 3pm, we will offer an opportunity for worship around scripture, prayer and song in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Gathered under the theme, Martin’s Dream: Earlene, Kamala and the Future, Pastor Laura Ingersol will be our speaker and many members of our synod will offer gifts as part of our worship. The gathering will be hosted on our synod’s 
Facebook and YouTube channel. We are grateful for the efforts of our Delaware-Maryland Synod Chapter of the African Descent Lutheran Association, our Synod’s Racial Justice Team, and CLAIM/Baltimore, who are sponsoring this year’s commemoration. The gathering will be available, on demand, after the premier at 3pm.
 
Metro DC Synod King Offering
A Prophetic Call to the Church: The Letter from Birmingham Online Event
Sunday, January 17 at 4:00 pm (with a replay on Monday, January 18 at 4:00 pm).
 
On Good Friday, April 12, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, AL after violating an anti-protest injunction and was kept in solitary confinement. During this time, Dr. King penned 
The Letter from Birmingham Jail on the margins of the Birmingham News, in reaction to a statement published in the same newspaper by eight white clergymen condemning the protests.
 
Dr. King’s prophetic call to action to the Church and fellow clergy is grievously and regrettably relevant over 50 years later. As we honor Dr. King’s dedication to reforming the Church and American culture, you are invited to listen to the African-American voices of rostered leaders of the ELCA, once again asserting a call for action to the Church by reading the very words written by Dr. King.
 
You are invited to watch on the Metro D.C. Synod’s 
Facebook and YouTubepages.
 
A Week of Service with Lutheran Disaster Response in Baltimore
The City of Baltimore has asked 
Maryland VOAD, and Lutheran Disaster Response as a member organization, to support the delivery of boxes of food to those in need January 11-15 while they are between contracts with other organizations.

15 drivers are needed daily Monday through Friday to pick up ten 30lbs boxes of food from the Baltimore Convention Center between 9:00 am-3:00 pm on January 11-15. Drivers will be given a route within a Baltimore zip code to deliver packages to the doorstep. No contact. Larger capacity vehicles are helpful, you may deliver on one or multiple days, and you must be able to lift 30 pounds. Parents and youth could do this together!

To sign up, click 
here.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Pastor Phil Huber at 
Chairperson@MarylandVOAD.org
 
Mar-Lu Ridge Rest and Renewal Day
Pastors, deacons, church leaders are invited to join Mar-Lu Ridge for a day of rest on Friday, January 22, 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. There will be guided devotions and lunch, then time for you to hike, create, and fellowship as you desire. An online devotion option is available if you do not wish to gather in person. This is our gift to you.

To register for this event, please click 
here.
 
Generosity
Six Weeks On Money – Faithful Financial Wellbeing Training
We are excited to be able to offer a pilot faithful financial wellbeing training starting in January 2021. It is a new six-week digital course, blend of online modules and small group, focused on money and faith sponsored by the ELCA. Individuals and families will discover how a grace-filled way of thinking and feeling about money can bring hope and freedom to strengthen our relationship with Jesus and enhance our generosity. Contact 
Karen Johnson Kretschmann to learn about Six Weeks on Money and have your congregation join in to explore money and finances with the lens of on values, agility, options, scarcity, integrity, and giving. To find out more, check out the ELCA Pilot Overview page.
 
 
Did You Get New Tech for Christmas?
North Ave Mission and Red Shed Village, our newest mission development in Baltimore has some immediate needs to work with their participants and residents. Your last-generation laptop computers, tablets, and iPads (in good, working order) that you are no longer using that can be wiped and set up for basic GED coursework, online job applications, accessing government information, etc. – you can mail or ship these to:

Bishop Bill Gohl
575 S. Charles Street, Ste. 202
Baltimore, MD 21201
 
ELCA World Hunger Online Event
This year, everyone can attend the ELCA World Hunger Leaders Gathering, held January 20-23, 2021 from 12-2:30 pm each day. You can get more information and register 
online. Registration is $20/person, deadline January 10. This gathering will help you learn more about our ELCA hunger outreach and programs. 
 
On the Way Together,
 
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William (Bill) Gohl, Jr., Bishop
Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA
 
 



Dear people of the Diocese of Maryland,

As your Standing Committee and I stated in November, 2020 was a very contentious year and our elections have been called. Some are very pleased with the result and some are very distressed. Emotions remain high, and the potential for more unrest, polarization and violence has sadly come true today in our nation’s Capitol. And it is heart-wrenching. A woman has died and other lives have been threatened. We must pray for our nation and all its people. Pray for our congressional leaders, pray for the safety of our law enforcement personnel, pray for the protesters. Everyone needs our prayers because we are a community of love. Our presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, has called us to prayer on this feast of the Epiphany.

Nonviolent protest has a long and valued place in our nation and in our Christian ethics. If you feel called to protest in some way, we support your doing so peacefully and with dignity. This election season and its aftermath have been marked by heightened fear, anger, mistrust and division. We, however, are called to be followers of Jesus, characterized by the “fruit of the Spirit” in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”(5:22-23) These qualities are not present in violent protest.

Let us model for the world how a community of diverse viewpoints can also be a community of love. Let’s be known as those “blessed peacemakers, who shall be called the children of God.”

Let us pray:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (A Collect for the Nation, Book of Common Prayer, p. 820)

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland







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