ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 20, 2009
ELCA Assembly Receives Palmer’s Words of Love
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) – Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the United Methodist Church (UMC) shared words of love in his homily at the Communion Service Aug. 20 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”
Palmer, who is president of the UMC’s Council of Bishops, was on hand for the assembly as it prepared to take action the same day on whether to enter into full communion with the UMC.
He based his message on the service’s gospel reading from John 13, the account of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet before His crucifixion.
Starting the message with greetings from “your sisters and brothers in the United Methodist Church,” Palmer assured worshipers “of our love and our gratitude for the partnership that we already share and of our deep anticipation of the ways in which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our life together will be deepened in order that we might make a more refreshing witness to the world that God loves so much: that God sent the Son.”
Palmer noted that Jesus faced “threats and challenges” to his life as He washed the disciples’ feet” and told them to “‘know this one thing: I love you. I always have and I always will.’ ”
“Jesus is almost saying to the disciples,” Palmer said, “‘if you forget everything else I said, remember this love,’ which is commended to each one of us, too.
“I assure you,” he continued, that in this scripture account “it is not all talk … but it is also demonstration and action of the deeds that come alongside the words.”
For Jesus and the disciples, as Palmer pointed out, that demonstration came as he washed the disciples’ feet.
“It is almost as if His message to them and to us is ‘this is not about my saying with mere words how much I love you, but I can say some things more clearly and strongly with my deeds and with my actions,’ ” Palmer said.
“And what is true for Jesus is also true for us,” he added. “This is no admonition that we not use words, but certainly an invitation for us to bring alongside of our creeds our deeds, our preachment accompanied by our practice.”
After receiving communion, worshipers were invited to stop by one of several stations in the room where they could wash each other’s feet. At each of those stations was a chair, a towel, a large wooden bowl and a pitcher of water.
Just before the service, at the close of the morning assembly session, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, the ELCA presiding bishop, announced that the offering given at that day’s communion service would go to Central Lutheran Church, to help the congregation with repairs after strong winds the day before caused damage to the church. Central, whose facilities sit next to the Minneapolis Convention Center, in turn donated those funds -- amounting to $8,561.87 -- to the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.
Information about the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly/ on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
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