LWF General Secretary sends New Year message to member churches
(LWI) - In a New Year greeting to all The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches, General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge looks ahead at the challenges that individuals and communities will face because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He urges church leaders to “be merciful” in ministering to their congregations, just as they have received “God’s abundant mercy.”
In his message to the church leaders, Junge draws inspiration from Jesus’ words in Luke 6:36: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’ He notes the timely nature of these words in light of the suffering and loss of life that the pandemic has caused. Though scientists and researchers have developed vaccines to contain the spread of the virus, he adds that the consequences of the pandemic will continue to pose great challenges throughout the coming year.
Referring in particular to the suffering, stress and anxiety caused by the disease and the associated “spiritual, psychological and mental challenges [that] are on the rise,” Junge adds that many have described the impact as a “third wave” of the pandemic. He also speaks of the “significant economic and social challenges that individuals and communities are facing,” as well as the increase in sexual and gender-based violence that has been reported during lockdowns in different parts of the globe.
Call to compassion and service
Jesus’ words, the LWF leader continues, are a helpful reminder of “the pastoral task entrusted to churches ministering to congregations and communities.” Churches are invited “to hold fast to a vision of life in fullness of Christ,” Junge says, “resisting apathy or accepting the pain of communities as a ‘new normal’.” Instead, he adds, they are called to “be compassionate as they speak to their people, walk with them and serve them.”
Indeed the Bible verse, Junge notes, does not come simply with a call for “action from our side.” It also comes with “a powerful reminder about the deep source of mercy and compassion.” It serves as a foundation and a reminder that our call to witness is nurtured by word and sacrament, “rooted in prayer and embraced by a community of believers that goes beyond time,” he says.
‘Mercy’ shall be our watchword as we continue announcing God’s liberating grace in this new year that has just begun.
The General Secretary assures the church leaders that “as always, we will do this together as a global communion of churches: praying for each other, supporting and encouraging each other, learning together and serving together.” Mercy shall be our watchword, he concludes, “as we continue announcing God’s liberating grace in this new year that has just begun.”