+Bishop Jon V. Anderson,
Part of the work of Lent is intensifying our fight against sin. How have you been working on that?
We all have our personal work to do. We also are a part of systems and structures that are as broken and sinful as we all are. The ancient church was clear that sin is both an action and a condition. It is something we do and live in. It is a reality that we would rather not think about or talk about in our current culture.
There are many biblical words in Greek that speak about sin. I will just name a few.
- Kakos is the word for bad or evil
- Adikia is the word for injustice or unrighteousness
- Anomia is the word for lawlessness. As a child might say, “You are not the boss of me now.”
- Hamartia is to miss the mark. This is the most common Greek word for sin.
I want to share something that has made me think deeply about my sin and our sin. It is an audio podcast. It is called Scene on Radio and is from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. It is not a religious podcast, but rather a stew of deep conversation, research and storytelling about life in our time. I kept thinking about what God longs for as I listened to these conversations and stories.
The second season is entitled “Seeing White.” It explores racism and invites you to see how the idea of white supremacy works in our culture in a deep and wide way. I heard about it from one our congregations in North Minneapolis, Redeemer, and a friend, Pr. Kelly Chapman. It has made me see things I used to not notice. It has helped me to be more self-aware and willing to speak about the ways that racism steals away all that God longs for in the lives of all our siblings of many colors and cultures in this world.
The third season, which I finished today, is called “MEN.” It explores the ways men and women interact. Again, the podcast series challenged me to see something that, as a man, I don’t often notice or pay attention to. Men are privileged in our society. Particularly white men are. The stories made me remember parts of my life that were hard. I think about mistakes I made and make. It talks about how patriarchy leads to men damaging women in personal and communal ways as we claim to be superior or don’t even notice how we are functioning in a society that has placed higher values on men. After listening, I notice things I mindlessly do that can diminish the gifts of women and girls while also hurting me and blocking me from being who I want to be as I live in this broken world. Both of these podcast series have me thinking and changing.
Our church body is preparing to consider a social statement about Women and Justice called Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action. It is worth reading and finding ways to discuss and chew on personally and in community.
Our church body passed a resolution that we should do work in our synods about racism. If we pass the social statement about women we are committing to do work to make sure that the lives of women and girls might be more whole. I believe this will also help men and boys to be more whole as well. If “justice is what love looks like in the world”, one way you can open your eyes wider and build up your muscles to work for change and justice would be to look into these podcasts and this statement.
Rostered ministers, if you listen to these podcasts as a whole, I think they would be good things to record as part of your continuing education work.
God’s unstoppable grace keeps working on us and meets us in the hardest of places in our life. In the cross we know death and sin will not have the final word. God’s grace washes over our sin. God’s Spirit keeps blowing us towards God’s preferred and promised future for our personal and communal life. May you find encouragement as you intensify your battle against sin in this season.