This piece comes to you on the heels of a busy week here at PoP. We welcomed Katie Elkin, a young woman who participated in the ELCA’s ministry, Young Adults in Global Mission, and taught English with children in Madagascar for a year. We also greeted Dr. Dennis & Paula Lofstrum, who have given their lives to the health care of countless people in Tanzania. We listened as they shared some of their experiences and the progress of building that nation’s first pediatric hospital.
Then we hosted the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity time of worship with choirs of three congregations supporting our song and with the preaching of Kirk Smith, President of Religious Community Services. Among many words of encouragement, Kirk shared with us this reminder that he rooted in Romans 6 – “there is freedom in our unity in Jesus.”
The Romans passages tell of our being bound to our Lord’s death and resurrection through baptism’s waters. Normally, if we say we are bound to something, the connotation is that we are restricted in some way, prevented from what WE want to do. But bound together in our Lord, baptized and so forgiven, rooted in his mercy, we know a freedom that opens us to look with kindness, mercy, grace and understanding on those around us—whatever our differences might be.
We speak often in worship of this unity in our Lord and of our freedom. The Spirit draws us together and so empowers us to serve the Lord through others in far-flung places and with our own hands right here at home, next door, with neighbor and acquaintance.
And this month God blesses us with opportunities to celebrate this unity in other ways, like sharing “pork” cooked out at the park or breaking bread with “who knows” on our “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” night. Being bound together, free in Christ, brings times of celebration and laughter as well as serving.
Worship, learning, serving our Lord, giving outside ourselves, breaking bread—it’s all a part of being God’s own. There IS freedom in our unity in Jesus!