I spent some of this month on the East coast, where I have helped serve Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Smithfield, Rhode Island. This year, the pastor was on sabbatical, and he had arranged for pastors to serve the congregation during, so I was able to go to church as a worshipper. I haven’t done that in a long while and it was truly a blessing.
I had forgotten just how comforting it is to be able to go to church, know the liturgy (apart from a couple of obscure hymns!), and just enjoy worship from the pew. It truly gave me a fresh perspective on the “worship wars” we are suffering in the Synod right now.
But while I truly consider our traditional liturgy a blessing for the Church, it was also wonderful to get back to Chai v’Shalom, and worship in our traditional way, Hebrew/English with hymns and messianic music. There is certainly a place for both in the Church, and I hope we can still honor the freedom we have to worship as we will, for some of us in our own heart language. For me, traditional Lutheran liturgy is my heart language, as much as our traditional Hebrew service is! Who knew!?
I did get to talk to one of the elders there, and we chatted a little more about a summer mission in the Newport, RI area and how our ministry might be involved with that. Smithfield is about 45 minutes from Newport, and there is not a Lutheran church close to Newport. Newport is the site of the first synagogue in America, and there is still a considerable Jewish presence in that part of RI. As you drive into Newport, one of the first things you see on your right is a large and very historic Jewish cemetery. Please pray about how we might be able to start a branch in RI along with this summer mission.
While I was relaxing in RI, our Michigan branch was very busy. They hosted a well-received seminar in Detroit, distributed “Stand with Israel” signs all over central Michigan, and through that evangelistic effort, Suzanne was able to pray with a Jewish man for faith! In addition to all that, we nailed down some of the details for the trip to Israel next year, and planned a bit more for the retreat that LIJE is hosting in September in North Carolina. The wonders of modern technology…it allows us to get so much done, even while on vacation. Believe it or not, that is a a good thing!