We have a tree just outside the front gate of our home that bursts forth in white blossoms each spring.  When we purchased and moved into our townhouse in the summer of 2019, the flowers had already come and gone.  It was such a surprise in the spring of 2020, while we were Covid-quarantined at home with our college kids, to be delighted by the absolute eruption of blossoms on the first day of May.  And then again last spring, we watched with great anticipation for the tree to burst forth its flowers.  Things are happening later this year but, as you can tell in the photo, it’s all about to happen.

Today and tomorrow, the 110 congregations and mission starts of the St. Paul Area Synod (SPAS) of the ELCA are gathering for our annual assembly.  Pastor Betsy, Debbie Jorgens, Caryn Josephson and I will be representing our community of faith as we join with others at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi which is hosting the gathering again this year.  Gary Olson will also be in attendance, serving to represent the cadre of retired clergy that call the SPAS home.  SPAS Bishop Patricia Lull will convene the assembly and we’ll be joined by representatives from many of our partners in ministry.  Along with business like adopting a budget and electing folks to a variety of roles, we’ll hear important stories of how God is at work in and through the synod and the broader church.

The theme of this assembly is “Emerging in Hope,” intended in part to recognize that after over two years of feeling locked up and held back by a pandemic, perhaps we are slowly coming back out into the light of day.  Like the tree in front of my house, the trees and plantings around Prince of Peace, or the flowers in your own garden, the church is on the brink of reemerging from a long spell of dormancy.  We eagerly anticipate that God is once again creating something new and look forward to celebrating its arrival.

One new “blossom” on the horizon for the SPAS is an exciting initiative being developed in partnership with Lutheran Social Service of MN.  Led by LSS VP and a “daughter of Prince of Peace,” Alexis Oberdorfer, this will be a community-based project to “provide new and critically important services to children and families living on the East Side of St. Paul, an area known to have a high concentration of families and vulnerable populations facing economic disparities.”  Learning more about this effort is sure to be a highlight of this year’s assembly.

Please keep the SPAS staff, clergy, delegates and ministry partners in your prayers throughout today and tomorrow as they help the synod and our partners to “emerge in hope.”  As you take in the beauty of the flowers and greenery of all types that is beginning to burst forth, be reminded of how the Spirit is pushing us out of our slumber and making all things new.

May God’s peace find you this day.  -Pastor Peter

Let us pray…

Gracious God, open our hearts to your power moving around us and between us and within us, until your glory is revealed in our love of both friend and enemy, in communities transformed by justice and compassion, and in the healing of all that is broken. Amen.

Prayer of the Day, Opening Worship, SPAS Assembly, May 13, 2022