dutzmann_2013
Dear Friends,
I recently spent two tear-filled hours with a non-member who had left his wife because he was gay. He left her because in his mind, staying in the marriage was “killing” his wife emotionally. He called me:  I did not call him. He confessed his fallen-ness and declared “why would anyone want to be a homosexual?” He does not like who he is, he feels trapped by his feelings, but he loves Jesus. He was my Zacchaeus who had proverbially invited me to dinner, even though he was a sinner.
The above was vividly brought to mind by the attached “Meyer Minute.”

’ve got the story of Zacchaeus on my mind.  You know, that “wee little man” who climbed up the sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus coming through town.  “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’”  The verses that have captured my thoughts are Luke 19:6-7:

“So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’”

What’s the culture of your church, sinners who joyfully receive Jesus and let it show?  Or religious people who grumble about others?  Every place has its own culture, its attitudes, assumptions, spoken and unspoken ways of acting.  A place’s culture is not spelled out in the bulletin or official words but is something you sense, you experience.  I recall going to guest preach at a church in Illinois.  Got there before the service, obviously! I stood in the narthex with my robe in hand and no one, no one came up to greet me.  I felt like a leper with my white leper’s robe in hand!  “Good luck if you’re not one of us.”  What kind of culture does your church have?

At the root of this problem, too common in churches, I fear, is the deception that our outward religious life makes us better before God than others.  False.  I’m the sinner, you’re the sinner who needs Jesus to stay with us.  Hurry down from your lofty perch.  Contribute to a culture of joy.

Had I made an excuse not to see this man, my life would have been easier, and all of you would have been none-the-wiser. However,
I am glad I consented to meet (I’m not nearly as bold as Jesus who invited HIMself to dinner!) and feel blessed to be considered trustworthy.
So, what kind of church are we? What kind of church should we be?
I am heartened to note that few strangers in our midst get out of church before being greeted, and I am proud of how some recent personal ’emergencies’ received comfort and care in the Name of Jesus!
As you reflect upon your involvement in our congregation, whether as a guest, a regular attender or a member, may the compelling phrase “Lord Lead Me” motivate your words and actions as we live out our First Lutheran Church of Boston Mission Statement: “We exist to bring the message and example of Jesus Christ to Great Boston and beyond!”

Pastor Ingo Dutzmann

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