Page 3 - ELCA
P. 3

Dear sibling in Christ,
At the beginning of the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John, Jesus is presented with a dilemma . After healing numerous people, he’s amassed a large following, and they’re hungry . He asks his disciple Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”
Philip tells Jesus they don’t have enough cash to feed the crowd . The need is too great, he says .
Here the Gospel writer makes clear that Jesus is testing his disciples . When another, Andrew, points to a boy with five barley loaves and two fish, provisions that Andrew doubts will satisfy the hungry crowd, Jesus simply replies, “Make the people sit down .”
I imagine Jesus chuckles, even shaking his head . What he does next defies all reason . Jesus takes the boy’s food, thanks God for it and uses it to feed the 5,000 gathered — with leftovers to boot!
As we consider the last year and our current reality navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, we in the church might be tempted to view our situation as Philip or Andrew might . We could wring our hands and say we’re low on funds, or look at our resources and complain they’re not enough .
Yet, looking at the stories that came out of 2020, I see evidence of God’s miracles . You’ll see too when you flip through the pages of this year’s “Stories of Faith in Action” ... .
Meet Lutherans in Arizona (page 8), Malawi (page 22) and Alaska (page 16) who adapted worship and outreach in response to COVID-19 restrictions to continue spreading the gospel . Learn how young adults across this church found community amid isolating circumstances thanks to Abide, virtual small groups led by ELCA Young Adult Ministry (page 12) . Hear about Lutheran leaders in Minneapolis who served their community and spoke out for racial justice after George Floyd’s death (page 14) .
Our records show that in 2020, ELCA congregations continued to give generously, including sharing Mission Support with their synod and the churchwide organization, to sustain vital ministries (page 4) . We showed up as church together to provide hope and healing to hungry souls . Thank you!
The disciples in John’s Gospel approach ministry challenges with a scarcity mindset . Jesus shows us a different way: trusting in God’s awesome abundance .
May this be so for us — now and always . Faithfully,
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A . Eaton

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