As I read a portion of the narrative of the “Commissioning of the Disciples” from the Gospel of Matthew as our Gospel text today, I read the prophetic zeal that Jesus emphasizes in this commissioning of his disciples (learners). He asks of his disciples that they take Jesus and his teachings seriously as they share the Good News in their travels. Matthew also acknowledges that these teachings can and will cause a certain amount of division.
Which begged the question for me — what are the teachings of Jesus that I am invited to first learn and then to teach others in Jesus’ name?
In the ELCA, there are a series of teachings on contemporary topics that the church has studied over the almost 30 years of our existence entitled, Social Statements.
Social Statements are teachings that provide a broad framework to assist us in thinking about and discussing social issues in the context of faith and life. They are meant to help congregations and individuals with moral formation, discernment and thoughtful engagement with current social issues as we participate in God’s work in the world. They result from an extensive process of participation and deliberation and are adopted by a two-thirds vote of an ELCA churchwide assembly.
The ELCA Social Statements include: Abortion (1991), Caring for Creation (1993), Church in Society (1991), The Church and Criminal Justice (2013), The Death Penalty (1991), Economic Life (1999), Education (2007), Genetics (2011), Health and Health Care (2003), Human Sexuality (2009), Peace (1995) and Race, Ethnicity and Culture (1993).
During this coming program year, we will take some time in our Adult Forums to look at these social statements as a way of learning and equipping us for our commission as advocates for Jesus’ sake in our contemporary world. As disciples, it becomes increasingly important to be the vessels that carry the teachings of Jesus to the world.
I hope that you plan to join us beginning in September to consider some of these statements that I hope will create some thoughtful engagement as consider our roles in being disciples in 21 century America.
See you in church!