FAITHFULNESS TO THE CHURCHES CONFESSION
The heart of the Lutheran witness to me is clear where the confessions state “We have a glorious comfort in this salutary teaching, that we know how we have been chosen for eternal life in Christ out of sheer grace, without any merit of our own, and that no one can tear us out of God’s hand. For God has assured us that God has graciously chosen us not only with mere words. God has corroborated this with an oath and sealed it with the holy sacraments.” Lutheran theology maintains that “by faith itself we are regarded as righteous for Christ’s sake, that is, we are acceptable to God.” According to Ephesians, faith itself is a gift from God. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” If we put faith in our own works, we rob Christ of his honor as our mediator and propitiator. “(And) since justification takes place through a free promise, it follows that we cannot justify ourselves. The promise freely offers to us, who are oppressed by sin and death, reconciliation on account of Christ, which is received not by works, but by faith alone. This faith does not bring to God trust in our own merits, but only trust in the promise or the mercy promised in Christ.” There is hope in the promises of God, revealed to us through Word and Sacrament. There is power in knowing what is done is done. There is consolation in God taking the burden of our justification from us. And there is humility in the knowledge that God chooses us – nothing can remove us from the grace and love of Christ! “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I also feel a much stronger sense of connectivity to the incarnational reality of Christ, than to the crucified Jesus when I think through my own personal theology. I love the notion that Jesus is present with me daily, every moment, and that I, as a woman feeling called to be a deaconess, can be called to help flesh that out for the world. Scripture tells us that Jesus lived out Gods love, and that deacons were the earliest representatives of Christ for the church. When I think of my diaconal theological perspective, I find myself being drawn to accompaniment theologies, theologies of liberation, and the healing nature of human story telling as a theology as well. I feel God calling us (me) to walk alongside those who need to tell their stories, and those who need to hear the stories that others share with them. I sincerely believe that we are not alone, not among fellow women and men, and not with the consistent, constant presence of the risen and incarnate Christ. I believe in a diaconal expression of theology that allows for me to be called to be and do and witness just that.
Therefore, based on these and all of the confessional writings of the Lutheran church, the creeds, and Scripture, I believe that God is that which calls us out of darkness and into the possibility (and realization) of love. I believe that Jesus Christ was and is the example of that Love manifest into a perfect human experience, and that Holy Wisdom is the presence of God’s love here and everywhere God’s creation abounds. I believe that Jesus’ witness to the love of God was challenged by the norms of his society, and due to their threatened nature, they rejected his expression of truth and crucified him as a criminal. I believe that the death of Christ was real, and that God used the fullness of it to broaden and share in the human experience of suffering and grief, only to then pull rank and raise Christ from the dead, claiming God’s ultimate strength in love and reconciliation, and power over evil. I believe that this act of God is also a sense of permission for the community of believers to rise up and not fear that which challenges the nature of God’s love, and that we all, too, are called to be prophetic and liberating for those without assistance. For I believe that all of God’s creation is accepted and welcomed into the kingdom of God, and should be accepted and welcomed in the lives and homes of the people of God.
I deeply believe that the church’s pivotal mission is to serve the world. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, and said to them, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you (Jn 13:15).” Here is where we are explicitly told to serve the world. As I mentioned earlier in this paper, I believe that the rumblings throughout society are calling the church to be more active and less preachy, which is a prophetic call for the church to head back to her diaconal, Christ proclaimed roots.