In an insightful article, Leo Sanchez of Concordia Seminary observes the election of a new Pope. He notes some of the obvious. For one, Pope Francis (Horge Mario Bergoglio) represents a geographic shift to the global South. Sanchez draws out the implications for the the church in the West. Historically, Europe was the "colonizer" and the "evangelizer." Today, Sanchez notes, "the evangelized are now the evangelists." Might an Argentinian Pope from a Latin American context bring a resurgence of the gospel back to Rome and Europe?
In terms of Lutherans, Sanchez writes, "An old church in decline will most likely only survive through the witness of the new diaspora Lutherans in other parts of the world and even within the U.S." The concept of Diaspora Missiology is an intriguing one to me. The Western Church is in desperate need of what the Global South has to give. Our theology and culture are so intertwined that it is hard for us to recognize when they get tangled. For instance, what does it really mean to be a Lutheran Christian, apart from being Germanic or Scandanavian? Can we separate our convictions from Lutheran potlucks, institutions, and entrenched formalities.
There is the benefit of an enriched perspective when you travel to a foreign land and culture. But what if the cross-cultural experience came to you, in your context and culuture? We are blessed by the immigrant and refugee Christians who settle among us. They may well be used by the Spirit as instigation for a church in need of renewal. We pray for their presence and leadership among us.