Lutherans- the church of our childhood is dead. We will never again feel those feelings, have those experiences. For better and for worse.
Lutheranism as we know it today is dying, and will die. The dominance of Germanic/Scandinavian culture in our churches is over. The church of white, middle class assumptions about communication, leadership, and institutional success is failing. Full time professionals with MDiv's, congregational constitutions with asterisks, and slightly updated hymnals aren't saving us. Our congregations, and our denomination, have dying numbers.
BUT God is doing a new thing. God is creating a Lutheranism we can't even dream of. God is creating communities of grace, and will always call us into unconditional love. I have seen only glimpses of what the new Church will look like. We need to discover it together. But it is beautiful. It will give you, me, us, new life.
And we have a choice: mourn the old, and continue to live in death, or jump into the new thing God is doing. Our choice won't change God's love. If we chose to stay in the old, God will climb down in the grave with us, and hold us as we grieve. But our choices together will determine the survival of our congregations, our denomination.
And if we choose new life, God will dance with us, will be the breath in our song and the rhythm in our bones. In the end, we will be saved either way. But a new salvation, a glimpse of infinite life, is here for us now.