Volunteers set up displays and hand out candy and pens. Old friends and colleagues greet one another. College students cheerfully direct lost guests.   Worship leaders go over last minute details. Energetic teens gather and joke with one another.  Hugs and handshakes are exchanged.   No one seems to mind the light mist falling outside. Laughter is heard everywhere.

The bishop announces “I declare this assembly to be in session the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” and another Synod Assembly is underway. 

Some people want to dismiss the institutional side of the church.  They want the church to be a purely spiritual entity.  But we worship an incarnational God.  A God who comes to us in flesh and blood. 

We are called to do God’s work in a flesh and blood world.  And that work involves red and green voting cards, for and against microphones (that don’t always work), people talking out their disagreements until they are ready to vote on less than perfect resolutions.  We are called to work that involves name tags and parliamentary procedure, and people who count the offering.  We called to work that brings us together from all around the state to share bread and wine and root beer floats.  Synod Assemblies an important way we answer the call of the spirit.

And so we gather this weekend as we have for years and hopefully will for years to come.  This year we gather under the theme of bold leadership.  Jan Hus is the reformer who we remember this year. 

Jan Hus was uncompromising in his proclamation of the Gospel and boldly sacrificed his life for the Gospel. 

But there are lots of ways to be bold.  In tonight’s sermon Bishop Ullestad brought up St. Peter and reminded us, “Bold leadership means bold confession of faith but sometimes it can mean bold sins.”

We’re probably all a little more like Peter than Jan Hus–sometimes getting it right, sometimes not.  Sometimes brave, sometimes not.  But always loved and called by Christ to feed my sheep.  This weekend is all about getting together, doing the business, sharing ideas, learning new things, studying the bible together, singing together and being fed by Christ so that we can feed his sheep.

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.

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