It’s one of the oldest Lutheran jokes. How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: Change? Yes, there is more change in our lives than what falls on the pavement while going through the drive-through. Whether we like it or not, change happens. Change, for its own sake, isn’t necessarily good or bad, it just means something is different. In the church, we seek change that is positive and that advances the Kingdom of God in our world.
As more and more people from other cultures come to our nation for refuge or just a better life, it is influencing our culture as well. We become multi-cultural. Those of us who were already here may have a culture of origin elsewhere (German, Sweden, Norwegian, etc.), but we can not assume that the world around us will function that way any more. It’s the same with someone from another culture (African, South American, Asian, etc.) who comes here. They are used to functioning a different way and are faced with difficulties adjusting to a new world. I believe we need to meet them somewhere in the middle. We should not have to deny our culture to greet another, nor should someone from another culture be expected to totally abandon their original culture to get along here. We must meet in the middle, and I believe it is somewhere between their culture and ours where we find our greatest opportunity to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what’s happening at Bethel right now.
No worries, we will still have our regular Sunday worship service at 9:30 and our Sunday School at 10:45. But be ready for a cultural experience come 11:30, when our African Service begins! The expression of their faith will be a change from what we’re used to. They will sing and dance and shout in praise and will worship God for two hours without a glance at a watch. But let me assure you of some things that will stay the same. God’s Word will be preached, taught and sung in its truth and purity. That does not change. Those who come to faith will do so by the same Holy Spirit. That does not change. The gifts of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are given by God for all of us. That does not change. It’s interesting… the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Challenge of Change
The changes happening at Bethel are the work of God through His Holy Spirit. I am convinced of it. God has prepared Lusienie Fofana to lead this ministry. God has prepared me to be his mentor. God had prepared this church to be multiplied into another. The challenge of these changes is to embrace the work of God for what it is, God’s work, and then to supplement God’s work with our work. Every one of us can play a part in the success of this new African ministry. Whether it means meeting in the cultural “middle,” supporting the ministry financially, helping out with the worship service or even being a prayer warrior, your challenge is not IF you will be in involved, but HOW.
God bless you this April!