How many of you like to dance? Here among us, it's pretty many. Probably in fact more than I thought. But it's not surprising to me. I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, it may not surprise you that in fact in these parts, not a lot of German Lutherans are much for dancing. Not really. So now, knowing that, I want you to imagine- Lutherans dancing...in a conga line...on camera...to an African song as the keyboard is played and music sung by a man born blind from birth who they only met yesterday- as they sang about how we DO life. As God's people unleashed from fear to do life. They were young and old, rich and poor, of every background and walk of life- DANCING! Some were really dancing, others bobbing in their spots, and still others not able to dance, but you could see it in there eyes, there they were- dancing too!
Celebrating God's work, beginning with remembering our history- in the words of Martin Luther who taught that it's always about God's grace- meeting us in all our crisis and joy and saying- starting in baptism- "I claim you. you are mine, and I don't share- so let's do life!" Freed to do life and dance!
I want to be a part of a community of faith like THAT! And the best thing is, that I am and you are- we are able to dance, the Dance of the Trinity. Living as those who know God is in us. The God who created us into being, Christ who saves us and frees us, and the Spirit who gifts and empowers us- call us into their dance.
This weekend I got to see and to hear many stories of this dance. In the work fighting World Hunger as we celebrated that just at the synod assembly thousands of dollars were given in addition to the recent Bike for World Hunger. We heard that the instance of malaria in Africa has been cut IN HALF by the work of groups like Lutheran World Relief. All because of mosquito nets that cost cents to produce. Life restored by half!
We heard of the work of Lutheran Disaster Response as we prepare to send our own team out in July to North Carolina to restore life. We heard the touching story of a man who was living in Iraq and needed to find a safer place for himself and his family to live. He tried traveling to Egypt and to Israel but ultimately was helped by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services both for himself and for his family. And I tell it like it took mere moments. But it took 6 years for his family and he to be reunited . And next month he will become a US citizen and he works as a caseworker helping others have life and freedom because he was given a home and taught English. By this church.
And the list goes on - feeding projects like the Potato Project where last year I worked with kids and adults and in one half day 10,000 pounds of potatoes were harvested. all because a man had a field and others had a vision to feed others. And we give life in suicide prevention, college ministries, chaplains for prisons and the military, prayer ministries and more! We are freed to live out this joyful response!
And I say "we" because it is with a certain point of pride of pride that I tell you that we here are the third largest giving congregation in our synod. Not the largest in people, but among the largest in Spirit. I tell you not to boast but to celebrate how you are living out your lives in faith. And so it's not a surprise at all that many of you like to dance- we've been doing a lot of dancing with the Trinity here!
But in all of this, as our Bishop Elizabeth Eaton noted, the goal is not that we are just a better social service organization. It's more. We are helping others live not in that spirit of fear, the Apostle Paul speaks of, but the Spirit of Life! We are proclaiming and sharing in the life Jesus talked about- where the hungry are fed and the oppressed are freed. Here and now- living as those who in baptism were claimed by a loving God to show that love- to be who we were created to be, who Christ saves us to be and who the Spirit empowers us to be and to join the dance for the sake of God's kingdom.
Some of us dance well, and some of us try, and some of us can only nod our heads but each week when we gather here we remember our place in the dance. We celebrate what has gone well, and hear new life for those things that have not. At the table and the font we are reminded of the heart of the Trinity and God's love, forgiveness and mercy. because we are THAT church!
Sent forth and led by the Spirit. We've done some great things but there is still more to do for the sake of the gospel. There is more to the dance of the Trinity, so don't put your dancing shoes away just yet.
Come join the dance.