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Bellingham, WA

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No faith group has it all. It does help, though, to have a larger group with which to be connected. This provides stability, accountability, companionship, synergy, and greater resources. Granted, being affiliated with a denomination can slow down progress and create bureaucratic frustrations, but the benefits far outweigh the minuses. 

Echoes is a worshiping community of the ELCA. There are a lot of Lutheran groups out there, all of which find their beginnings in the life and work of Martin Luther. He didn't intend to turn the Christian world on its head when he protested some of the religious goings-on of his day, but Luther's complaints gained traction and played a vital role in the Reformation of the 16th century. One of the many lasting tenets of Luther's theology is that the church needs to be "always reforming." There is ample room for new expressions of church in today's culture (the 21st century is very different than the 20th century!); Echoes is an intentional experiment in ongoing reform.

There is a lot to like about Lutheran theology. Here are a few examples:

First and foremost is the overwhelming emphasis on grace. Sin has done incalculable damage, to be sure, but it doesn't hold a candle to the power of grace. Freedom, wholeness, identity, and an embrace of our weaknesses and limitations is found in grace.

The theology of the cross is another gift of Luther. We know God through the self-revelation of God, which is most evident in the person of Jesus Christ, especially through Christ’s death on the cross. God is found in the universal experience of all humans: suffering. The ability for all to find God in the midst of suffering transcends culture, gender, socio-economic status.

No one could have predicted that Jesus would end up on a cross, not when he had the power of the divine available to him. This unpredictability leads us to adopt a sincere humility whenever we think we are "right" in our theology - God is indeed revealed in the mysterious person of Jesus, more than in our own theological or philosophical reasoning, or understanding of Scripture.

Because God can be found in suffering, and because God has given every living thing an equal measure of limitless grace, Lutherans spend an enormous amount of time and resources in social justice and activism. Jesus went out of his way to heal the sick, give dignity to the oppressed, and include the marginalized in his tribe. We do well to do the same.