By: Rev. Laura Kuntz

Hosanna! Within this word exists many possibilities. We hear this word shouted from the crowds as Jesus rides into Jerusalem. Within this word we hear the cries of the people who needed Jesus to save them. We also hear it as a word of praise as people place their trust in where Jesus is headed. Within our worship reflect these means within this one word alongside thousands of other words used to express our heart to God. 

We debate about what words we use very strongly. Words are important, but the meaning behind them and the actions behind them make them real. We can and should embrace the words we need to use to describe our experience. We can claim the word queer as part of our identity even though it was once used against us. We can use a person’s correct pronouns and validate their whole selves. We can name the sins of homophobia, white supremacy, and patriarchy. 

This year on Palm Sunday as I say Hosanna, I’m praying for God to save us. To save our world from the racism that keeps all people from experiencing the kin-dom of God. To save us from this pandemic that has disrupted the lives of many and harmed the most vulnerable. To save us from feeling hopeless when we aren’t optimistic about the future. I’ll also seek comfort in that same word and use it to praise God because I believe God is working on our world. When we feel defeated by what is going on in our lives and in the world we know God is there. God is listening. 

God hears our cries and knows our struggles. Despite the ways we seem to habitually mess things up, God believes that the whole world is worthy of love. God came to earth because of this love. To preach, teach, and heal because we are God’s beloved. We can call out to God in whatever way we need and God is there. We can remind each other of this love when we don’t feel it ourselves. It has been with us in past struggles and will be present into the unknown of the future.


Hosanna in the highest,

We cry to you for help with such a great list of needs. Can you handle them all? Is there an end in sight to a pandemic, and all the injustice in our world? 

Hear our cries, our questions, our concerns. 

Help us to remember your promise to be with us. 

We ask that we could feel your presence in our world. 

Save us from both ourselves and the injustices of this world. Help us to see your kin-dom. 


The Rev. Laura Kuntz (she/her/hers) is serving as interim pastor and lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her wife and two dogs. Something that brings her joy is being a part of the Buy Nothing Project in her neighborhood, where people give to their neighbors out of their abundance. Her favorite items she has received were a small Ikea greenhouse and a box of old trophies she used to make a hat hanger for a friend. She loves to give away plants and anything that someone has a need for.

Disobediently Devoted

By: Melissa May

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way/ To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey…

When I hear people gleefully singing this hymn, I know I’m theologically not in for a great time.

It’s not that I don’t delight in God’s counsel or in being carried by the wind of the Holy Spirit—far from it! But associating obedience with my relationship with God gets me cringing. It feels like you can’t question authority or dialogue with the divine. And that’s inauthentic to my experience.

When God has called upon me to trust in the divine, it seems to be when I’m most broken down: hiding behind a seminary chapel in grief over interpersonal turmoil; questioning the label of my sexuality; dejectedly wondering how long I would have to hold my tongue around homophobic leaders; having an emotional breakdown in a GMC Yukon in the Arctic hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, after the local teens tell me during our icebreaker-youth-group game how many illegal drugs they have tried. 

The Spirit is there in my stubbornness and anguish, in my impatience and self-sabotage. Being “happy in Jesus,” as the song says, is about experiencing the freedom of abiding in Christ’s way, in the law of God’s love.

The writer of Jeremiah proclaims the new covenant which the LORD will make with the house of Israel, and God will put God’s law within us and “will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33).  

We’ve been unchained from sin, and unfettered from the power of the Law, and that’s the Gospel truth.  And yet paradoxically, with divine law etched within us, we can freely sing to God with the psalmist: “‘With my whole heart I seek you” (Psalm 119:10) and “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word” (119:16).

My obedience looks a lot like sullen protest and ugly crying, especially at first. But as I recognize the presence of God—who did not abandon me behind the chapel, in toxic heteronormativity, or on the lonely tundra—that trust becomes more like the grace of peace in the pain. And for me, “there’s no other way.”

Melissa May (she/her) is the daughter of a pastor and a youth director, and grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She attended Susquehanna University and Gettysburg (United) Seminary, where she earned an M.Div. but confused everyone by going into diaconal ministry. For four years, Melissa served as a curriculum writer, volunteer coordinator, and Bible Camp teacher with On Eagle’s Wings Ecumenical Ministries in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in Canada. Discerning a call to change to congregational-based ministry, she became ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament and served at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Nome, Alaska. Melissa is on leave from call, but celebrates new developments: she recently joined the Proclaim Community, and this is her first public declaration of being a queer child of God!


ELM’s Response to Pope Francis Statement

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries weeps with our queer Catholic siblings over Pope Francis’ words and the church’s refusal to bless queer love. Over the centuries, the Christian Church has committed and continues to commit atrocities against queer and marginalized communities: favoring cherry-picked scripture that, through a patriarchal and white supremacist lens, has inflicted real harm including suffering and death. 
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries celebrates the beauty and belovedness of all queer identities and the many ways queer families are formed. We claim the Theology of the Cross as a queer gift of grace: radical honesty about the world in which we live, radical love that holds our wounds along with our joy, radical liberation that centers the marginalized and stigmatized, and radical affirmation of our true identities as the beloved of Christ made in God’s image.
We also need to point out “the log in our own eye” by acknowledging that the church in which many of our leaders are called and ordained, the ELCA, is not exempt from similar statements, beliefs, and actions regarding queer children of God. The ELCA continues to enact policies that keep queer people from answering God’s call to ministry and subject them to harm.*
In his essay, “The Prodigal Church,” queer Lutheran saint, Joel Workin, imagines the church as the wayward prodigal child who returns home to the forgiving parent: the queer community. As the queer family waits expectantly at the mailbox at the end of the driveway for the church to come home, Joel finishes this imagery with these words: 
Childish as the church may seem and act, it is not a child. LGBTQ Christians, therefore, await a Church that comes home as an adult. Not happily perhaps, not jumping and skipping, even with some fear and concern, but of its own will and confessing with its lips and heart that “I have sinned against you and against God.” 
The queer community is still expectantly waiting like a loving, patient parent for these words of confession. In the meantime, ELM and the queer leaders we organize continue to communicate and embody the Good News of Christ’s radical love by boldly advocating for marginalized communities and loving our neighbors — and celebrating who they love.
We join our queer Lutheran voices with those of our Roman Catholic siblings in boldly declaring “queer people are God’s beloved!” 
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries anticipates a church in which queer leadership is valued, empowered, and celebrated: where queer-led ministries are dynamic and thriving; all marginalized communities are liberated and honored, and justice flows from the sacraments as they overwhelm us and bring us to life.

* “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” adopted at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009, continues to define marriage in heteronormative terms (i.e. between a man and a woman, a husband and wife, etc.) and through a teaching called “Bound Conscience,” makes space for ELCA Lutherans to claim that “they believe same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law…They therefore conclude that the neighbor and the community are best served by calling people in same-gender sexual relationships to repentance for that behavior and to a celibate lifestyle.” (p. 20)

Getting Back to “Normal”

by Rev. Carla Christopher-Wilson

The story in Numbers that this week’s John passage references in passing is actually a striking one. The Israelites are struggling along a meandering desert path, riddled with anxiety. There are venomous snakes all around, called up by the Israelites in their agitation over the discomfort of their journey. The desert wanderers are being bitten, some are writhing in pain. God could shorten their journey, bring the Israelites to a snake-free land of milk and honey. God could just get rid of all the snakes. That would solve the problem as well. Instead, God calls Moses to make a bronze serpent that those who look upon it will be healed. 

Why does this matter? Because there is a lesson in being forced to look upon the thing that we caused, that we called up, that we wildly underestimated in our short-sighted and selfish vision. We must confront our demons and look them in the eyes before we can truly see where we went wrong and start to make it right. Whew. Uncomfortable. Harsh even, for a God of endless love and mercy. In looking our viper in the eye, though, we can find the difference between avoidance and the possibility of true healing.

Vaccines are beginning to roll out. Infection rates are finally starting to go down in many states. Warmer weather  is coming. A new president and many local politicians are in office who are flying rainbow flags and issuing executive orders against discrimination. How tempting, how easy it would be to say “let’s get back to ‘normal'”. “Normal” here in Pennsylvania was the ability to be fired from my job or evicted from my housing because of my sexual orientation. It was medical care and civic offices and school districts and yes, churches, visiting inexcusable ignorance or active harm upon LGBTQIA+ people as well as Black and brown and disabled people. It was relentless productivity and chronic exhaustion. Like the slavery in Egypt, it was nothing to go back to just because recent times have been excessively difficult.

If you are tempted in this season, exhausted by months of racial conflict, LGBTQIA+ assault, the oppression of immigrants, and the exploitation of the poor, to simply stop looking, I beg you to reconsider. A desire to forget did not serve our Israelite siblings. They could not be healed until they looked into the face of their communal sin. Practice self-care. Steep yourself in that which strengthens your spirit. Rest for a time. Then get back up and continue this necessary and restorative journey toward justice. Those who cannot see the broken and marginalized body of Christ, who cannot bear to look upon it, are lost. Those who refuse to look away are healed…and able to see that body resurrected. Easter is coming, beloveds. Keep striving with me so that we don’t miss it.

Jesus of fierce advocacy born of endless compassion, give us courage to stand alongside our siblings in times of need and not turn away from the ugliness of oppression for the sake of comfort. Inspire us and sustain us that we may survive this wilderness and root out our own bias and internalized pain, so that we can look upon you and experience all the love you embody. In your holy name we pray, Amen.

The Rev. Carla Christopher Wilson (she/her) serves as Associate Pastor of Faith Formation and Outreach for Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Lancaster, PA and Assistant to the Bishop in Charge of Justice Ministries for Lower Susquehanna Synod. A former Poet Laureate who still moonlights with a funk fusion band, Carla lives to spread the artist-activist gospel of cultural competency.

The Zealous Ones

by Rev. Leslie O’Callaghan
One of the blessings of ecumenical relationships is the sharing of language and phrases that bring richness to our faith lives. Add to that the gorgeous vocabulary of the LGBTQIA+ family, and our attempts to harness faith in words get a little more productive! For me, to hear the words at holy communion from our Episcopal siblings, “Behold who you are; become what you receive,” centers me so firmly in the reality of the body of Christ, I have a hard time loving other welcomes to the table. “Consume me and be me!” Jesus says. And we do that in community, heading out the door to bear the love of Christ to the world, loud and unabashedly clear about who we are. So when we, as a community, step into the temple courtyards with Jesus in this week’s gospel text, I wonder if the words have a similar transformative strength in them. After flipping the tables in a fit of rage that we in our polite little circles have attempted to calm with the language of “righteous anger” or less violent images than our meek and mild Jesus getting pissed at those who were destabilizing the very systems intended to gather in the nations at the feet of God, some change comes to the temple. 
It is at this point that the words recalled benefit from some flipping of their own. A prophet is quoted, “zeal for your house will consume me.”  Consuming zeal. As an adjective it’s powerful. As a verb phrase of the present tense, it calls us to something new. What if we consume the zeal of Jesus in the same way we consume the body and blood of the holy meal? Consume the zeal and become one unafraid to flip the tables of injustice in the presence of the powers who would uphold them. Flipping tables is rough. It’s messy. Toes get stubbed and shins a little bruised. The wealth we hold in fits of security is scattered and shattered on the floor. But at the end of the day, the lonely seeker is welcomed into the family they might have only seen in dreams. 
I see you, zealous ones, my siblings seeking out the courtyards of exclusion and breaking down the barriers one at a time. I also see you, guardians of the temple gates, with systems and requirements that keep the weary world at bay and leave you sitting with your worthless boxes of coins and requirements. It’s time to flip the tables in the name of justice and mercy. Consume the zeal and let it drive us to a new reality of what it means to be Christ’s church, a house of prayer for all people. 
God of all people, you call us to break down the barriers that keep your children from experiencing the beautiful blessings of community. Forgive us for our part in constructing them. Give us the courage to flip the tables of injustice and the sustaining power of your presence within us to keep the doors open.  Amen.

Rev. Leslie O’Callaghan(she/her)  lives in Denver with her spouse Asher, their dog Francis, and three kitties who make life magical. She serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Faith Formation and Candidacy in the Rocky Mountain Synod, has attempted to learn the accordion and bluegrass banjo during the pandemic, and loves to find rest in the kitchen creating something delicious, usually with butter.