First, let me say what a wonderful job our Faith Formation Team did with last night's LCM Program. The discussions were insightful and helpful. Good job folks!
Maybe it is the close proximity of the Lutheran Student Movement Retreat, which has "Grace" as its theme, but it struck me last night how grace kept being spoken of, even though it was not in the readings on which we were to reflect.
Clearly, this did not displease me. I am always thrilled to hear students speak of grace, and its centrality to their faith. And, with regard to the questions set before us, "grace" was the perfect response.
The emergence of the word exposed something that I often talk about and attempt to elicit. It is to realize that each of us, as a result of our previous experiences with God and God's people, approach scripture with a set of prior assumptions. We remain open to having those assumptions challenged, but it isn't possible to read or reflect without those prior experiences impacting what is before us.
Call it the tradition of our elders; call it the accumulated wisdom of the saints who have gone before; call it the whisper of the Holy Spirit into our ear; it is the faith which already resides within us, informing this new encounter with God's Word.
Sometimes we are aware of this prior conviction; sometimes we are not. And while God's Word and the Holy Spirit are consistent, none of us have reflected on scripture with the same persons, thus our experiences differ. As a result we sometimes come to different conclusions as to what these verses are saying to me, now.
Prior to last evening's program David spoke with me about Christian denominations residing under a "large tent." That tent is large enough for all of creation. It is so large that the folks at one edge can't always hear what is being said by folks at the opposite edge. As a result, they don't always reflect the same experience.
But God's grace is sufficient for them all. And in God's grace, we are united as one.