June 25, 2007
Participants attending the Eleventh Biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) marked the closing of convention by worshipping together on Sunday morning. National Bishop Raymond Schultz, National Bishop-elect Susan Johnson, and the serving bishops of the ELCIC Synods, with the exception of Bishop Elaine Sauer of the Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod who was absent due to illness, followed a flower decked processional cross into worship during the opening hymn. All dressed in white copes, while Bishop Schultz carried the crozier. Bishop Schultz presided, and was assisted in worship leadership by lay delegates, members of the youth assembly and the convention chaplains.
The music for the service was celebratory in tone, with Mark Sedio providing upbeat leadership on a grand piano for the singing of the hymns and the liturgy.
Rather than using one prayer of the day, three were used to signify various aspects of the convention. The first prayer used was for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, as it was the designated prayer for the day, the second prayer was one for Christian unity, serving as a reminder of the ecumenical family that the ELCIC is a part of, and the third prayer was for the stewardship of creation, which had direct connections with a motion that was passed during the convention.
Bishop Schultz’s sermon centred on Luke’s story of the Gerasene demoniac. Schultz reflected on the fact that the people who encountered this man after he was healed became afraid of Jesus. Bishop Schultz's reflected, “Isn’t it amazing that an act of salvation would make people afraid!” and went on to say that this fear arises from a human understanding that the powerful can and do use their power to dominate and hurt others. This, he said, stands in direct contrast to Jesus’ understanding of his ministry, as well as to an all-powerful God who, in fact, chooses to show kindness and mercy.
In this story, the combination of the compassion that was shown, along with the gratitude of the recipient became the “ingredients of God’s mission of grace.”
Through our baptism, Schultz concluded, we receive a call to be In Mission for Others, while reflecting this same quality of compassion, along with the reassurance that we need not be afraid.
Participants shared in the Eucharist together, and were sent forth with words that proclaimed their unity as one body in Christ, and called them to be Christ in the midst of their communities everywhere.
Following the service, participants shared final conversations with one another, and made their way to waiting buses and cars to return to their congregations, communities, friends and families.
Full coverage and information on the Eleventh Biennial National Convention of the ELCIC is available online at: http://elcic.ca/In-Convention/2007-Winnipeg/default.cfm