Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Mission:
This week of our national day of Thanksgiving, it is appropriate even in a year like 2020 to give thanks. To do so we must first, as people of Law and Gospel, acknowledge the griefs and losses of this year we have suffered. Also, while we may be tempted to romanticize the first Thanksgiving, acknowledge the grief that many of our Native and Indigenous siblings feel during this week and learn more about ELCA Native and Indigenous communities and the repudiation of the doctrine of discovery. Yet despite these realities, we give thanks. First and foremost for God’s abundance in our lives, and also to for one another. In the past couple weeks, I have met with many of our conferences and pastors via zoom. In those conversations, we have had remarkable and open sharing of the joys and sorrows of our lives together in ministry. It is heartening to see colleagues comfort, resource, and be good news to one another.
This past weekend, we also gave thanks for 50 years of the ordination of pastors who are women in our church. What a joy to be able to celebrate a half century of saying yes to the gifts of women in ministry while we also recognize the challenges, barriers, and work yet needing to be done to continue to fully include and embrace the gifts of all who God calls to ministry.
We give thanks while we also live in an increasing pandemic. While the possibility of a vaccine for Covid-19 is looking all more likely in 2021, today the reality is that infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths are rising again to levels we have not seen since the summer. If your congregation is gathering in person, please revisit our recommendations and consider halting in person worship for a time if you do not feel you can do this safely for all present. Please also be wise and care for family and neighbor as you consider Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings.
As we look forward to 2021, it is essential we recognize, in the midst of challenge, all that we have for ministry. 2020 has forced us to make challenging decisions, it has stretched us in ways we never anticipated, and we have learned from this work. In 2021 we will need to apply that learning in our work. To be wise stewards of God’s resources for mission, to let go of some things we have been doing, and to see how we are called to live into the ELCA Future Church priority of connecting with new, younger, and diverse communities. I am heartened in this by the work of our NT-NL Young Adult ministry team as they have found ways to gather in person and also online throughout this fall. An example of starting something new even in the midst of pandemic.
This Thanksgiving week, know that I give thanks for you and that we are called, in thanksgiving to God, to share the good news with others. The news of abundant life with God through Christ that spills over into our lives working for justice and peace. Serving Christ by serving, as we heard in our gospel this past weekend, the least of these in our midst. May God bless you this Thanksgiving and know you are daily in my prayers.
Advent for Gender Justice Symposium
Mary, the Magnificat and the Witnesses of Women:
from obscurity to power
An International Online Symposium
TODAY, November 24, 8:30-10:00pm Central
Meeting ID: 943 2843 0376
In this time before Christmas and the preparation for the coming of the Lord, we recall Mary’s preparation as she sang the Magnificat. This song is not just about Mary’s service to God but is about loudly proclaiming God’s justice. This justice brings down the proud and powerful while uplifting the poor and lowly. The Kingdom of God that Mary points to is one that is vulnerable, about the powerless striving to make justice, the norm.
In addressing the Magnificat, Tina Beattie speaks about two pregnant women singing their joy to God about a God who would make the “downward journey … into the fleshy depths of human condition … Where human power is least visible, where human glory is least manifest, where human hunger in most urgent and human poverty is most extreme, there we must seek the power and the glory.” * As we look to the coming of Jesus, who in word and deed indeed lifted up the poor and the lowly, we recall in particular his approach to women. The Magnificat that inaugurates the Advent is the manifesto that recognizes, honors and prepares an agenda for their rightful place of women in the Kingdom of God, from obscurity to power.
In any year, we enter into Advent and prepare for Christmas – and even this year during this pandemic – as a precursor for the rest of the Gospel. We celebrate Christmas only because we can look ahead to Jesus’ life, witness, suffering, death and resurrection. Other than Jesus’ justice that includes women and men, we are keenly aware that the first witnesses to the power of the resurrection were women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. We thus look at gender justice, which is God’s justice, a justice for women and men together to be witnesses to the Gospel.
This virtual Advent for Gender Justice symposium, at the beginning of Advent as we prepare for the coming of ‘Immanuel’, will feature a study of texts, reflection on gender in practical ways in the life of the church, and bring hope for an exciting future for all. This symposium, organised by the Asia Pacific team of the Global Mission Unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, attempts to recall these voices found in the Magnificat; recapture Mary and Elizabeth’s nature of “the Kingdom”; look for other ways to continue the work of the Magnificat on the uprooting of un-just powers, continuing the revolution and building on the foundation for Justice, Equity and Dignity for all.
* Tina Beattie, “Sounding the Depths: Mary’s Magnificat” in a 2 September 2019 entry to the College of Preachers.
o The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop ELCA (Greetings)
o The Rev. Dr. Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Pilgrim
Theological College, Melbourne, Australia
o The Rev. Dr. Prasuna Nelavala, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, Gurukul Lutheran
Theological College, Chennai, India
o The Rev. Nicolette Peñaranda, Pastor, First Trinity Lutheran Church, Chicago
o The Rev. Debora Sinaga, Director, Department of Diakonia, Batak Protestant Christian Church,
Tarutung, North Sumatra, Indonesia
▪ A Theological/Biblical Interrogation of the Magnificat: Unpacking the myths of power and God’s
commitment to Justice
▪ Ecclesiological Reflections on the Magnificat: The Political manifesto for the church
Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine
During the Advent season, we often talk a lot about the Holy Land of the past without talking much about the Holy Land of the present. What is going on in Bethlehem today? How are we called to accompany our Palestinian siblings in love, joy, hope, peace, and justice? What does this mean for our own advent journey?
Join ELCA Young Adults and ELCA Peace Not Walls starting November 30 for an Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine.
Over the course of the 4 weeks of Advent, young adults from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) will lead us on this pilgrimage through story, education, and theological reflection.
Every Monday of Advent we will share a video reflection, and every Wednesday of Advent we will share a written blog post, accompanied by discussion questions and actionable items you can use with small groups.
Register here to receive Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine resources by email and/or to register for our opening educational webinar on Monday, November 30, 8:30-9:30pm EST.
Follow at #AdventInPalestine
Featured Resources for November
Societal Chaplaincy: Preparing for the Storm to Come
“As the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis is revealed, religious leaders—at every level, national to local—will be challenged to respond to the needs of their communities and society at large. The magnitude and scope of this disaster will fundamentally challenge American society, shaping the callings and responsibilities of all pastors, priests, imams, and rabbis….
My fellow faith leaders, the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis is expanding our vocation. We are called to look outward for the benefit not just of our own communities, but for the good of society itself as we seek to promote the flourishing of human communities. This developing tragedy is also a time of potentially tremendous remaking.
What do you perceive is needed in such a time as this?
What global and communal wisdom can we draw upon for responding to this axial moment?”
Impact Diamonds: Societal Chaplaincy and COVID-19
“…The US has not had any direct, long-term experience with national trauma and loss.
Societally minded leadership among persons of faith (lay, rostered, and ordained) will be necessary for helping persons and communities name the losses they have experienced, the grief they carry, and the resources already in their possession for rebuilding life on all levels. The skillsets of ‘societal chaplaincy’ can be of direct assistance….”
Grief and Hope: Societal Chaplaincy For and Beyond COVID-19
This session hosted by ELCA Coaching explored the concept of “societal chaplaincy” in order to provide tools for responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. This global crisis is producing layers of grief and trauma beyond what most people are anticipating. Religiously informed leaders have particular callings to respond not just to their defined communities, but to society as a whole, helping others name their grief while pointing to paths forward. The insights of social analysis, grief coaching, and chaplaincy each have contributions to make as we move forward together.
The PPT slides from this presentation can be found here.
Societal Chaplaincy: Caring for Neighbors, Acting for Justice
“…[Don Eisenhauer] named that COVID-19 is causing all of us to experience not just a public health crisis, but a ‘pandemic of grief.’ In that context, he warned us against cutting grief short. Loss and grief need to be named, worked with, lived with.
There are many reasons to cut grief short. We do not like to admit weakness and the feeling of being out of control. We are surrounded by people made uncomfortable by loss and grief, who would rather we put it away instead of working through a process.
Although religious systems are often at their best when staring death in the face, when they speak a word of hope and truth in a moment like this. But often, religious people are the absolute worst at accompanying people through the experience of death and other forms of loss….”
Longest Night / Blue Christmas Service
December 21, 7pm
On December 21 at 7pm, the NT-NL synod will be hosting an online Longest Night / Blue Christmas worship opportunity. This service is a time of reflection, prayer, music, and draws attention to the reality that while Christmas is a joyful time we also know it can and does bring many griefs. In 2020 in particular it is wise to take time to grieve the many losses we have experienced and continue to experience due to the Covid-19 pandemic while also reflecting on the promise of Immanuel, God with Us, coming in the Christ child.
In this year when we will have a Christmas unlike any other we invite you to share a time of worship and reflection acknowledging our griefs and losses, taking seriously those feelings and hurts, while also hearing words of hope shared in community.
More details will be shared here closer to date: https://www.ntnl.org/event/longest-night-blue-christmas-service/.
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/resources-for-longest-night-blue-christmas-worship/ – published Nov. 18)
50th Anniversary of Ordination of Pastors/Deacons who are Women
(https://www.ntnl.org/50th-anniversary-of-ordination-of-pastors-deacons-who-are-women/ – published Nov. 22)
Where in the world is?
Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 across our territory in November 2020, the bishop and staff will be engaging in no non-essential travel or in-person meetings through the remainder of 2020. 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.
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:
- Nov. 25: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Being an Ally: Principles and Practices with Jory Mickelson, Zoom
- Dec. 2: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – The Sacred Work of Grief, Part 4: TBA with Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Zoom
- Dec. 3: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 3: Interim Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Dec. 9: Stars and Promises Christmas concert featuring Peter Mayer, lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett, benefitting ELCA World Hunger, Facebook
- Dec. 10: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 12: Public Witness Team meeting, Online
- Dec. 16: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Growing Young: Empathy with Rachel Alley and others, Zoom
- Dec. 17: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 21: Longest Night / Blue Christmas Service, Online
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.