PASTOR HERR’S REFLECTIONS
Grace and peace to you in the name of Holy and Blessed Trinity. Amen.
From July 23 through August 8 athletes from around the world are gathering in Tokyo, Japan for the 32nd Olympic Games. Much about the Olympics makes it special and unique. Each Olympiad draws on the history of previous games while embracing the accomplishments and feats of current athletes. The games conclude with a look to the future including the location of the next Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee defines the goal of the Olympic Movement to “contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced in accordance with Olympism and its values.”
I appreciated and enjoy the Olympics. The parade of the different nation’s athletes as part of the Opening Ceremony always reminds me of the wonderful diversity of humanity across this world that God created. The interaction and competition between athletes from various nations promotes understanding and respect among those who do not look the same, speak different languages and distinctive heritages. The goal to build a peaceful and better world through sport in contrast to a world at war or in conflict is a noble one. The personal stories of athletes who demonstrate resiliency, exhibit dedication, overcome hardship, and embrace the opportunity to compete inspires me.
The Olympic games remind us as a people of faith that the Church of Jesus Christ is also a global phenomenon. People from all continents and many nations are part of the Body of Christ. As a result, there is inherently within the church a rich and wonderful diversity worth celebrating and praising God. This diversity contributes significantly to the Church’s goal of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. As American Christians we can learn from people of faith around the world and find ourselves better equipped for this important ministry in our own context. Likewise, we have much to offer the global Church. Our experiences, God-given gifts, and vision can inspire others. Furthermore, God challenges us to remain open and welcoming as we strive to reflect the Church’s inherent diversity in our congregational and daily lives.
Thus, it remains an important part of our life together as the Body of Christ, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the Church to stay connected with one another. It is important for us as a congregation to partner with missionaries around the world and to support the Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran World Relief. Fostering connections with churches including those in the Lake Tanganyika and Konde Dioceses in Tanzania, Copenhagen, Denmark, Central America, and Leipzig, Germany help us to live into this wonderful diversity of the Church created by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit. In doing so we witness and work together for the building up of the Body of Christ and for the sharing of God’s gifts of faith, hope, and love with the world.
Enjoy these Olympic games and the remainder of your summer. Stay healthy and safe. May we all embrace and lean into our collective role as members of a wonderfully diverse Christian Church.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Stephen Herr