Apology NOT Accepted

Newtown Prayer Vigil
Newtown, Connecticut Prayer Vigil

So this came across the wire today:

(RELIGION NEWS SERVICE) – A Lutheran pastor in Newtown, Conn., has apologized after being reprimanded for participating in an interfaith vigil following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The Rev. Rob Morris, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, prayed at the vigil the Sunday following the Dec. 14 shootings alongside other Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i clergy.

Morris’ church is a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the denomination’s constitution prohibits ministers from participating in services with members of different faiths.

Wait, run this by me again:

This pastor is present in a time of deep grieving, offers prayers on behalf of families and children in a time of unimaginable suffering, and he has to apologize for it?

This has happened before, the article continues:

It’s not the first time a Missouri Synod pastor has been reprimanded for joining an interfaith prayer service; a New York pastor also was suspended for participating in an interfaith service after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

I think the entire Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod ought to apologize for being idiots.

peoplesprayerbreakfast
Today was the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, D.C.  I suppose every pastor who attended ought to apologize.  I was fortunate to attend The People’s Prayer Breakfast, an alternative to the national event which also featured people of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i faiths, among others.

The first speaker this morning, Rev. Graylan Hagler, noted that: “If I have a need to convert you to my own religious position, it is because I am insecure in that position.  If I am secure, then I can let you be you, and trust that God is not insecure either.” (quote not verbatim).  He went on to note that it is time we realize that we have to cross traditional boundaries that our various faiths have constructed to work together for common cause.

And that’s exactly what this event was:  coming together over common ground:

“People from across the country [and across faith traditions] are joining together to pray and to stand in unity with those suffering economic hardship and inequality in our nation;

We are issuing our call to political leaders, corporate interests,faith leaders/ advocates and every American that

THERE IS ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE”

But I suppose I need to apologize for attending such a subversive event.

If our faith is such that it prohibits us from engaging in precisely the activities that our world needs: we ought to repent, and apologize.  If our faith says, “Because we’re the only ones who are right, we’re the only ones allowed to respond to tragedy, injustice and suffering,” then it’s time we rethink what kind of faith that is.

God is the God of all, he causes the sun to shine and rain to fall on the just and the unjust, and if we think God is calling us to flaunt our righteousness in the face of the other, to belittle their honest prayers while touting our own, perhaps we’re not actually listening to God, but to our own inner prejudices.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s response in this situation is an embarrassment to Christianity.  And I will not apologize for saying so.

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9 thoughts on “Apology NOT Accepted

    1. Thanks for passing this along. Glad it was at least acknowledged at some level. I suppose address the larger policy would have to be addressed through formal procedures and voting, not in an apology… But still, a public acknowledgment of the shortcoming of the policy could give energy toward that change. But perhaps there’s no interest in the MS for this shift.

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  1. Hi there, just wanted to mentioned that when I had my business, Missouri Synod Churches were about 36% of the total volume. I mention that because I worked with a lot of people that would find this matter really irritating…they, like myself, may be part of a large institution that goes off on tangents. They just shake their heads and continue to advance the work of God in their own spheres of influence. The decision to stay or go is a personal one.

    So, while I agree with the thinking that the organization needs to move past Junior High Theology, we must also temper or comments because of the great people we meet inside. To all my LCMS friends: God Bless. (and yes, the grass really is greener on this side of the fence!)

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    1. Hi Drew-
      No doubt there are fabulous people in the LCMS – what I am criticizing is an official policy they hold, and how it causes them to respond/react in situations like the above. I’m not sure we should temper comments when injustice occurs. Silence is what allows the status quo to continue.

      I wonder if they could say “God bless” to all the people they are above praying with.

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      1. Fair enough,
        I always think in terms of the people I know…..”not causing offense” is part of my DNA (I am an introverted, recovering fundamentalist who was born and raised in Minnesota (NICE)) As far as the God Bless thing goes: “not officially!”

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  2. Seems a little stiff and hard. Working on common cause is something many have done for centuries, even in the face of challenging differences and distinctions. But I cannot agree with Rev. Hagler’s conclusion regarding insecurity, that is a judgment left to other evidences.

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    1. Calling people out on improper behavior is always a bit stiff, I suppose. Could I have been more gracious? Yes. But I have seen this happen elsewhere, and happen to me (see the introduction to Pub Theology) – Christians need to get over their parochialism and learn that they are not the only ones who are allowed to pray.

      Am I a regular embarrassment to my own faith? Yes. Any of us who claims to follow Jesus is regularly going to be a disappointment. But that shouldn’t prevent us from calling out our brothers and sisters when their actions call for it. (In my experience siblings regularly call each other idiots – and still love each other.)

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      1. I am sorry Bryan. I intended my comment to be directed toward the position of the Missouri Synod. I can see I should have qualified that. Their position seems untenable. Please re-read my post in the light of this. I hope all continues well.

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