Dear Trinity Lutheran Church,
I want to begin this letter by expressing my sincere appreciation for all of you. Thank you for your warm welcome, for your support and encouragement, and for your prayers. I thank God for you. It has now been three months and counting since I came here to serve as your pastor. During more than half of that time we have been separated and isolated due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This has made it very difficult for us to get to know each other, but you have been patient, you have expressed support and encouragement, and you have welcomed my family and helped us get settled in the community. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.
Sunday morning worship this week is different than it has been before. For the first time, that I know of, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, will prepare a sermon for all the congregations of the ELCA. We will be playing the recording of her sermon as part of Trinity’s live streamed worship video on Sunday morning. Along with this sermon, the presiding bishop’s office sent out suggestions for the order of worship. I have used many of the suggestions, like the prayers. I think it is good for us to use these resources. These are not the prayers that I have written as your pastor, but they are the prayers that are written by your presiding bishop (or her staff). I think it is good to use them because by praying these prayers together with many other congregations, we manifest our unity with other Christians, and it reminds us that the Church is larger than our own Trinity family.
The same is true for the bishop’s sermon. I do not know what her sermon will be, but I believe that the Holy Spirit works through the preached word, and all of us hearing one sermon gives witness to our unity in Christ.
Finally, I feel that I must say that I renounce and repent of racism in all its forms. I renounce and re-pent of white supremacy in all its forms. I renounce and repent of all the ways that I have contributed and been a part of prejudice, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I pray that we would together continue to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
The death of George Floyd is a terrible national grief. The deaths of far too many people of color is a terrible national grief. There is far too much fear in our society right now—people of color afraid that they could face violence or even death at the hands of authorities, people in cities ravaged by riots afraid that their businesses could be burned, people who have diverse opinions afraid that they will be condemned for what they think and believe, and many people simply afraid of what will come. I pray that God would help and guide us, and I believe that Jesus died and was raised to forgive these very sins and to save us from this very evil.
Also, I encourage you, as your pastor, to be wise and responsible with how you consume news media and participate in social media. Listen more than you speak, and listen with the intent of understanding other people. Be aware of how the images and messages you consume affect your perspective and your emotions. Most importantly, seek to hear God’s Word and to see God’s will over and above the cacophony of commentary.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Your Servant In Christ,
Pastor Scott C. Egbers