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Freed in CHRIST


to serve the neighbor By Meghan Johnston Aelabouni


Illustration: Jen Norton Art Studio 500


YEARS OF LUTHERANS IN ACTION


On Jan. 21, 2017, Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of ELCA Global Mission, donned his clerical collar and set out to join the Women’s March in downtown Chicago. On the way he encountered some women holding protest signs—including one that read: “Keep your rosaries out of my ovaries.” “I asked the women if they were going to the march,”


Malpica Padilla recalled, “and reluctantly they engaged me.” Eyeing his collar skeptically, they answered: Yes, they were marching. When he told them he was marching too, they replied with surprise and curiosity: “What kind of priest are you?” The question “What kind of priest are you?” is about


theological identity; it applies not only to priests, but to the priesthood of all believers—the church. What kind of people of faith are we? For Lutherans,


shaped by Martin Luther’s insight that all of life is part of our calling from God, the question of theological identity is not only about the interior faith of our hearts and minds, nor is it only a description of how we live within church walls. It’s also about the life of faith we live out in the world. This has always been the essence of Lutheran Christianity, Malpica Padilla argued, pointing to the “simple question” Luther posed in a 1519 sermon: “How do we stand before God, and how do we stand before neighbor?”


MISSION & MINISTRY • LIVINGLUTHERAN.ORG 15


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