Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Mission:
Since the beginning of this pandemic our communities have adapted and leaned into new ways of being. We have considered how to carry out ministry, continue to have worship, celebrate the sacraments, and do the work of the church. We have learned to do much of our work in ways that care for our neighbor and help preserve life. You, our NT-NL leaders and members have been adaptable, creative, and positive in the face of these challenges. For this I am grateful. And there is great hope on the horizon as the vaccine continues to be administrated. But we might also have hoped that by this point in 2021 we would be seeing signs of the end of the pandemic. Unfortunately, we are not. As such we must continue to adapt as we prepare for Lent 2021 including Ash Wednesday.
Many of you I know have already made your plans for Ash Wednesday and Lent while others have inquired as to my counsel on how we are both faithful to our traditions as well as care for our neighbor. So I offer a few thoughts here for you related to Ash Wednesday and Lenten observances.
- Emphasize Faith in the Home: I have seen creative options being sent to families and shared online. Some have sent small packets of ash, or you can teach families how to create their own with just a small amount of burnt paper crushed and mixed with a small amount of oil (no water please, it makes acid). This is a great time to help parents teach their children the faith.
- Forego the imposition of ashes/modify practice: In my first call I was asked “Pastor, when did the synod start making us have ashes?” While many of us, myself included, find the imposition of ashes a profound ritual there is good reason to forego it this year entirely. My colleague Bishop Matthew Riegel (WV-WMd Synod) reminds us that Ash Wednesday and Ashes are an adiaphoron. Not essential to salvation. He also, as is his form, addresses a number of other potential practices around the ritual.
- Ensure the Word is proclaimed clearly: The Word of God is powerful and active. As I reminded us back on March 22, 2020, when first giving counsel on how to handle this pandemic. We have a call to proclaim the living and active Word of God to the world. And God’s Word makes things happen.
Whatever you choose to do this Ash Wednesday and Lent I pray you do so continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our neighbors. That is a critical part of our witness in this time. We do not simply rush to find ways to perform ritual that sooth us in this challenging time. Instead we recognize the words “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” speak all the more clearly as we contemplate 400,000+ individuals whose lives have ended from this pandemic and the losses we have all experienced in this time.
As we look forward into this coming season of penitence we know the power of the law over us. The reality of death, our sin and complicity, are all around us this year. They can even overwhelm us. So as we make our preparations for a Holy Lent this year, may you also remember clearly the gospel. Our rituals and actions do not save us, God in Christ, crucified and raised, saves us through faith given by the Holy Spirit. May that spirit enliven and enlighten you in this time.
Webinar: How Technology Got Congregations Through 2020
In 2020, congregations everywhere were faced with new challenges of how to connect with members, grow giving and streamline their communication. TOMORROW, on Wednesday, Tithe.ly will hold an exclusive webinar to share strategies and best practices that have made the biggest impact for ELCA congregations.
Join Frank Barry, cofounder of Tithe.ly, for a live interview with an ELCA congregation to hear how it has leveraged technology to survive and thrive throughout the pandemic.
- How to stay connected with members in this new digital climate.
- Strategies for consistent giving when traditional giving methods are inconvenient or impossible.
- The best ways to keep your congregation engaged in a world of virtual worship services.
Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m. Central time
Tithe.ly is an ELCA preferred vendor, offering a family of digital tools to help increase giving, manage congregational membership data and engage members, with special pricing for ELCA congregations.
Webinar: Enriching Spirituality in Older Adulthood
This Thursday, January 28, 2021 – Noon ET
Roland Martinson, Emeritus Professor of Luther Seminary and author of Elder’s Rising: The Promise & Peril of Aging, will share multiple aspects of spirituality as it relates to older adults. Hear about some of the material developed for ALOA’s Toolkit for Older Adult Ministry.
Featured Resources for January | Recursos Destacados de Enero
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/hot-conference-celebrates-its-dean/ – published Jan. 19)
Where in the world is?
Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 across our territory since November 2020, the bishop and staff will be engaging in no non-essential travel or in-person meetings through at least the beginning of 2021. For previously scheduled and essential meetings, the staff will wear masks anytime they are near people, either inside or outside a facility. All synod business will continue to be conducted online.
Bishop Gronberg, Pastor Totzke, and Pastora Bañales – Jan. 25-26: 2021 Tri-Theological Conference
With the ever-changing guidelines and recommendations in our world right now, as we maintain physical distance in social solidarity, please keep in mind these events may be moved online, postponed, or cancelled:
- Jan. 26: Living Connected Workshop on Creation’s Gift of Waste, Online
- Jan. 27: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Showing of Welcome Strangers documentary, Q&A with Garret Savage (producer) and Sarah Jackson (Casa de Paz), Zoom
- Jan. 28: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Feb. 3: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – The Sacred Work of Grief, Part 6: The Places That Have Not Known Love with Rev. Solveig Goodin-Nilsen, Zoom
- Feb. 4: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Feb. 4-6: ELCA Extravaganza 2021, Online
- Feb. 5-6: Synod Council and Deans Meetings, Online
- Feb. 10: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Counterstory: The Writing and Rhetoric of Critical Race Theory with Aja Martinez (UNT), Zoom
- Feb. 11: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Feb. 13: Public Witness Team meeting, Online
- Feb. 17: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Growing Young: Jesus’ Message with Rachel Alley and others, Zoom
- Feb. 18: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Feb. 24: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – The Untold Story: Black Lutheran History, Part 2 with Dr. Larry Clark and Dr. Richard Stewart, Zoom
- Feb. 25: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
Access our full online Calendar here. Updates made regularly.
Do you have news or announcements to share? Please submit to Jason (firstname.lastname@example.org) for consideration for upcoming NT-NL News.