Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

The freak tornado struck at 2:00 PM, on Wednesday, August 19, 2009, but the majority did not heed the warning. Nearly a year later, The ELCA has ordained 7 openly gay pastors. This time, God is silent… Silence is a far more terrifying judgment.

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11 Months ago delegates to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America convention had gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center to vote on a controversial sexuality statement that would pave the way for the resolution endorsing the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals as ELCA clergy. Just moments before the debate and vote, storm sirens blared. A rogue tornado, missed by weather forecasters suddenly descended from the clouds and headed straight toward the assembly.

Witnesses reported sensing an eerie, palpable fear settle over the 1045 voting delegates locked in the room. ELCA President Mark Hanson read the 121st Psalm to calm everyone down. But Rev. Steven Loy, chairman of the ad hoc committee on the sexuality statement admitted aloud, “We trust the weather is not a commentary on our work.”

The twister hit and then promptly lifted leaving behind damage of stunning, symbolic exactness. The cross atop the steeple of Central Lutheran Church, directly across the street from the Convention Center, hung upside down, dangling in the air.

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Once the storm passed the convention agenda continued. The warning went unheeded. That afternoon the sexuality statement which needed a two-third majority, passed by one vote – a .666 majority.  Later in the week the group voted officially to recognize gay pastors.

With these votes the ELCA officially stepped outside the boundaries of Orthodox Christian belief and practice. They chose to set up a subjective interpretation of doctrine above of the simple, categorical Biblical prohibitions against the practice of homosexual behavior. They made themselves judges of God’s Word, and God mercifully gave them a warning just moments before their decision. They ignored the warning.

Yesterday, the ELCA finally acted upon their rebellion. In a ceraemony at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco the ELCA welcomed into its fold seven openly gay pastors. It was the first of several planned ordinations scheduled since the denomination took the fateful vote at its convention last year. Yesterday there was no storm. There was no Earthquake in SF, as there was an electric storm in Orlando at an earlier ELCA convention that discussed the sexuality issue, and as there was the tornado in Minneapolis. Now there was only silence. I can’t help but wonder: Is God’s silence and seeming consent an even darker and more terrifying judgment. Perhaps he has simply withdrawn his hand. Judgment and discipline is a form of love. But silence… That’s the most frightening judgment!

I am a Lutheran pastor. The church I serve chose to leave the ELCA eight years ago, and I am no longer on the denomination roster. But I grieve for this church, and the division and dare I say “fear” it has engendered. May God have mercy! And may he again show his mercy in his hand of judgment.

“Have mercy! Lord, do not remain silent! Do not leave the ELCA alone to ferment in their own folly! Act again, in judgment if need be. Just do not turn your face completely and walk away!”

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