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.