The Words of the Swanson Family

Reflections on February Fourth from a Lutheran Scholar

Paul Swanson
February 10, 2004
Professor Emeritus
Lutheran School of Theology
Chicago, Illinois

Reflection on Feb. 4

As I thought back to the early beginnings of the work and ministry in the 1980s with some theological dialogue here and there, such as took place in the Chicago area once a month with a dozen or so ministers of different denominations and faiths, and later with some group communication in the Bahamas on a broader scale, I was amazed with what was now taking place before my eyes in the Pavilion Room of the Reagan Building. I saw some of the same faces with widely different religious backgrounds - Rev. Jenkins, Rev. Daugherty, Rev. Dunlap, Dr. Walsh, Dr. Kaufman, others. Somehow there was a brightness to their countenances and a wisdom to their eyes. As usual there was a group of new and different faces of later additions to the ranks, representing different disciplines and experiences and backgrounds. But to my amazement, could I really be experiencing what was taking place "on the stage" before my eyes - between persons of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths. Jews bringing a crown - not of thorns - but of silvered trim to the stand-ins for Jesus. I was told that this was something of a replay of what had happened in the Jerusalem area with similar persons.

Now I recall what had happened in Moscow between 400 representatives of the US, 400 of Russia, and 400 of China. But what happened there could not take place in China or on the public streets before the "steeples of government." I recall walking down from the stage in Moscow arm-in-arm with a Russian and also with a Chinese professor. That was an embodiment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Yes, there has been some work and gutsy outreach by our brothers and sisters in the faith. "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Vision and faith and the old college try. The Holy Spirit has been at work. Some folk have been "walking the walk, not just talking the talk." It was good to be in that place. Praise God, my tired eyes of "an old Simeon in the temple" were blinking and in my head I am still trying to put together what all took place.

With appreciation,
Paul Swanson

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