Apologizing for Praying

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

I wish, I wish, I wish I could say that the apology for praying was because the prayer was offensive, heartless or hasty. But it was not. When Lutheran pastor Rob Morris apologized for praying with other Christians in a prayer service following the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, it was because he wasn’t supposed to. How can that be?

It is because Missouri Synod Lutherans are not supposed to co-mingle themselves with the worship of other faiths or even other Christians. Somehow it is thought to defile the one true faith. The real defilement, in my mind, comes from an arrogance that believes prayer is somehow wrong with others because we are different. I hate to say it, but this isn’t the first time.

Throughout my ministry I’ve been in situations following national calamities or local tragedies in which Missouri Lutheran pastors could not participate in ecumenical gatherings for this same reason. I’ve always felt it reprehensible. I still do.

With Lent just around the corner our minds turn to confession, repentance and sin. There is much we need to turn from and turn to. But one thing stands for sure. If we’re going to give up one thing for Lent this year maybe it should be arrogance. I think Jesus would like that.

  1. Vicki Conn says:

    Very sad, and unfortunately not an isolated event. After 9/11 a Lutheran pastor was suspended and subsequently reinstated for praying publicly with clergy of other faiths.

    From New York Times:

    Lutheran Panel Reinstates Pastor After Post-9/11 Interfaith Service
    Published: May 13, 2003

    A Lutheran pastor who was suspended by his church for praying publicly at Yankee Stadium with clergymen of other faiths after the September 2001 terrorist attacks has been reinstated by a church panel.

    In an order dated April 10 and released yesterday, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s dispute resolution panel cleared the Rev. David H. Benke, the New York leader for the conservative Protestant denomination. Pastor Benke holds a position that is the Lutheran equivalent of bishop, and his suspension followed his appearance at an interfaith service 12 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with a Muslim imam, a rabbi, Cardinal Edward M. Egan, and Sikh and Hindu holy men.

    After the televised event, 18 pastors and three congregations filed complaints. ”To participate with pagans in an interfaith service and, additionally, to give the impression that there might be more than one God, is an extremely serious offense,” the Rev. Wallace Schulz, second vice president of the Missouri Synod, said when Pastor Benke was suspended last June.


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