Last Sunday I had a rare treat...the opportunity to lead worship at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wasilla. The ELCA and UMC have a full communion agreement which means that clergy can be shared between the two denominations. Pastor Duane Hanson who has served this congregation for 24 years retired last month. Not only was I needed to preach and preside over communion, but I baptized a baby.
Here are a few of my observations. I cannot say how many of them are unique to Good Shepherd or present in most ELCA congregations.
1. The very first part of worship was confession.
2. The baptism was done in the back of the sanctuary at the font.
3. Children were invited to sit on the floor next to the font to witness and participate in the baptism.
4. The Lord's Prayer is virtually identical to the UM version.
5. They use wine, juice, leavened bread, and offer gluten free wafers for communion.
6. They all come to the table with open hands to receive the bread.
7. During the offering the children walk forward to place their offerings in a large barn bank.
8. They love to laugh.
9. They do announcements at the very end of the worship.
I was most struck by how they received communion with open hands. Every one made eye contact with me to listen to the words, "The body of Christ given for you." It was a holy time for me.
I can't help but think that worshiping with Christians from other traditions now and then helps advance the kingdom of God in this world. I give thanks to God, to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and Bishop Shelley Wickstrom for the grace shown me in recognizing my leadership.