Yesterday, I got an invitation to preach to an Episcopal congregation. They are interested to hear something from me, from my view of social justice. Date is TBD. Not bad for a liberal Lutheran! I made it very clear that I do say uncomfortable things from the pulpit and do “push” people towards action.
One thing we have become very good at in the midwest or in Lutheranism (I'm not sure which, since they are rather intertwined at this point.) is healing from afar. We're willing to send money, to gather food items, to make blankets, to make school kits or shelter kits, or to pray for those who are oppressed and downtrodden in the world, but rarely do we actually encounter the people we “minister” to in an authentic way. Even many of our own missionaries heal from afar, acting as administrators and money agents, rather than healers and prophets. This is a challenge from me, to me. NOW HEAR THIS, HEALING IS BEST DONE CLOSE UP. Jesus did not heal by making school kits or adopting families at Christmastime.
When I was in my younger years, doing some work for Minnesota 4-H, a staff member said so simply, “Youth work is about a ministry of presence.” Mind you, this was not about a specific “religious” ministry, but about a way we, as those who are privileged, as those who do have power in this world can be in community with those we are called to minister with. Much of it is about the listening, about the tenderness of hearing the story of another. It is a gift to say who we are, and a blessing to hear who others are. Through this ministry of presence, those of us who have privilege can be called to action.