I had the privilege of worshipping at University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis this past Sunday. ULC is near and dear to my heart, as it is for many of you. As eviction day draws near (April 30) I wanted to be there at that place and share with my brothers and sisters their burden, this cross they are carrying because they are Christ’s Church. In the sanctuary filled to the brim with young and old, students and families, led by choir and accompanying instruments, the processional hymn rang out in praise to God in that acoustically perfect chapel: The Strife is O’er! Rev. Bart Day, visiting preacher, spoke God’s word to us in his sermon: Christ commissions His Church and gives them the Keys of the Kingdom. Pastor Kind chanted the words of institution, the very words of Christ, giving us His Body and Blood: Agnus Dei. In this very place, this house of God on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the vision and desire of our LCMS forefathers is fully realized in the proclamation of our Lord’s Word and the distribution of His Body and Blood. Faith is created and sustained. Students have a HOME, a sanctuary in the local family of faith called University Lutheran Chapel. It is in full bloom. In most worlds this would be treasured, even celebrated, not destroyed.
Several different things have been converging in my ears these past few days surrounding my visit to ULC. At a recent Lutheran conference the idea was presented that it is good in our churches to make decisions based on unanimity of mind. We study, we pray, we discuss, and together in one mind, we make decisions for the church. In a Bible study while discussing the 7th commandment from Luther’s Large Catechism, we were told that what is ethical and what is legal may not be the same thing. Something that is legal to do may not be ethical, and may, in fact, be stealing from our neighbor. And throughout it all, swirling in my thoughts is the obvious question which so many of us have been asking since last September, WHY?
WHY the rush to sell this faithful, living chapel with which our forefathers would be supremely pleased? WHY the secrecy? WHY the stonewalling? WHY the lies? WHY executive decision rather than consensus of the entire convention, of the entire Church? WHY insist on what is legal rather than act ethically in love toward ULC? The answer is there to see for those who are willing to open their eyes to the truth. What Luther calls stealing from our neighbor, our churchly officials call a legal right. We now, as church, condone executive privilege over churchly consensus, exercising legal rights over servant-oriented stewardship management. Justice is not to be found in the churchly governing structures we have accepted, even insisted upon, and the faithful at ULC become living martyrs, carrying their cross, a cross imposed on them by this “machine” of church governance that has lost all godly accountability. In this case of theft of the highest degree, by Luther’s terms, we are met with shrugging shoulders and pithy comments from the very top, “It’s a real shame.”
Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy on us all!
April 18, 2012
Noreen Lindberg Linke