By Dan and Jennifer Digmann
We thought it was odd when Bishop Craig Satterlee encouraged us to bring a hat to wear during the final worship service of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod Assembly.
A hat. In church?
This was our first time attending the annual ELCA synod meeting, serving as the voting members and elected representatives from Immanuel Lutheran Church. We wanted to represent our congregation well at the May 17-19 event held in the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. So, we faithfully followed Bishop Satterlee’s request to wear a hat that best represented our calling or vocation in life.
Jennifer sported a hat from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to signify her advocacy work for the MS and disabled community. Dan donned a Central Michigan University baseball hat to represent the communications work he does to support people’s education. And Pastor Dana positioned a flashy purple and green hat on her head to symbolize her calling to loudly live her baptism.
There we sat among the hundreds of other hat-wearing representatives from congregations throughout the Lower Peninsula, worshipping together one final time before we returned to our homes as close as Lansing and as far away as Alpena, Grand Rapids and Bad Axe. These were the people we had spent the previous two days talking to, learning about, and eating with as we participated in sessions to deepen our faith and gathered in sessions to vote on the issues facing our shared synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
In his sermon, Bishop Satterlee delved deeper into the Gospel reading about when the Holy Spirit filled the people, and they all could understand each other in their native tongues. We, too, are filled with the Holy Spirit, and it burns within each one of us, Bishop Satterlee said.
And if we were wondering whether or how the Spirit was within us, we only needed to look at the hat we were wearing and to ask the people next to us about the hat they each were wearing. Our respective calling and vocation and the excitement we have in it is the Holy Spirit at work.
All this from wearing a hat. In church.
This is the work we all at Immanuel do together as the Holy Spirit burns within us. And it was empowering for us to see that we as a congregation in Mt. Pleasant aren’t living as an island. We truly are part of a larger community that is the North/West Lower Michigan Synod as well as the ELCA worldwide, which currently is following the mantra “We Are Church.” We are, indeed.