June 2006 cover image: Barbara and Shawn Sciberras

Vol 21 No 4 June 2006


National Bishops's Turn

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The Free Fall of Grace

Listening to a CBC radio interview on my drive to my out-of-town home, I was struck by the comment, "Being lost, because there is a loss of control, opens us to experience the joy of life." Yet, loss of control is something many, if not most of us, resist, and even find frightening. If we are in control of our environment, of ourselves, nothing can go wrong, right? Yet we know this is not the case. So why do we resist 'giving over', when oftentimes, that is exactly what God would have us do.

Loss of control can come in different sizes. Consider these: first, the surrender to God's will when one is confronted with an unexpected path—like being elected bishop, second, the free fall of submitting to a life-saving yet dangerous surgery.

Since our last issue, two of our synods have held their conventions—Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario (MNO) and British Columbia (BC). MNO has elected a new bishop, Rev. Elaine Sauer, to lead their synod, and BC has reaffirmed their bishop, Gerhard Preibisch for another term.

Shortly after the election, I had the opportunity to interview both Bishop Richard Smith, who has served as MNO bishop for 12 years, and Bishop-elect Elaine Sauer. I was struck by the fact that both of them owe their Lutheran commitment to their experience of being welcomed by the Lutheran Church when they were very young—Bishop Smith as an eight-year old in Ontario, Bishop-elect Sauer as a 16-year old in her home town of Terrace, BC. And they both admit to a certain resistance and apprehension about accepting the responsibility of being a bishop, yet yielding in trust to the will of God.

The feature story, "Our Life For Others", also deals with surrendering to an unmarked trail. Barbara and Shawn Sciberras had to wait for several months, in faith, for the gift of a double lung transplant. Faith and astounding prayer support were what kept this young couple going and translated their fear into calm acceptance. The recognition that their lives would be forever changed—whether they received the transplant or not—is a beautiful story of God's grace in their lives. And Rev. Joel Crouse shares the theological response to organ and tissue transplants in "Making Miracles Happen".

Our Articles of Faith contribution in this issue is about global warming and its effects on the Far North and on our world in general. Dr. Mary Vetter from Luther College shares some of her research on this important topic. It's one that is very much in the news. I picked up the April 3 issue of Time magazine at the airport recently, attracted by the photograph of the polar bear on the front. The article it represented talked about global warming, and how the clock is definitely ticking for vital aspects of our planet. The polar bear could well be a casualty of reduced hunting and habitat areas. But where is God in this for us? And what is an ethical response to the very real devastation that is already happening?

As you head into the summer months, with balmy weather and (hopefully) relatively unstructured days, I hope the time is one of refreshment for you.

Ida Reichardt Backman