Stories of Faith in Action

A message from ELCA Presiding BishopElizabeth Eaton

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, Malawi and Alaska 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. Hear about Lutheran leaders in Minneapolis who served their community and spoke out for racial justice after George Floyd’s death.

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. 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,

Elizabeth A. Eaton Signature

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton

Bishop

We showed up as church together to provide hope and healing to hungry souls. Thank you!