Message from Pastor

March 1st, 2013

 

Dear disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

On Epiphany Sunday I shared a recent epiphany of my own—a vision that came to me of where God might have us focus our ministry this year. My vision was “hospitality.” How might we build on our strengths to become an even more welcoming congregation than we already are? This vision did not come out of nowhere. Last year our Congregational Council articulated eight goals including: welcoming strangers; neighborhood visibility; addressing the needs of fellow members; and exploring becoming a Reconciled in Christ congregation that welcomes all people regardless of their sexual orientation. At the root of these goals is hospitality.

Every week we have guests who join us in worship. Young adults who have moved to Los Angeles to pursue their dream of working in the entertainment industry. Snowbirds who come from other parts of the country to enjoy our milder winters. People of all ages seeking a spiritual connection with deeper purpose and meaning in their lives. How might we better welcome these guests, listen to their stories, and accept the gifts they bring to our community? “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). This passage from Scripture reminds us that hospitality not only welcomes strangers, but recognizes their holiness.

At our January Council meeting, the newly elected members embraced my vision as our vision for 2013. Together we have begun reading and discussing the book, The Welcoming Congregation, by Henry G. Brinton, as part of our devotions each month. Our Future Facility Task Force is assessing our physical site and will make recommendations to the Council regarding ways to improve our buildings and grounds in terms of hospitality. A welcoming task force will soon be launched to look at other practices such as having greeters at our worship services. In addition we will want to come up with a Welcome Statement for our website and other publications to communicate our intention to welcome all people into our midst.

Hospitality of course is not a means to an end. Our efforts are not intended to be a recruitment strategy for new members. Rather this is something we are simply called to do because we are Christians. We welcome others as Christ first welcomed us, affirming that Jesus died for the whole world—not just for those inside the church.

As we continue to grow as faithful followers of Christ, I pray that hospitality will be a powerful key to our identity, and that our church will truly be a place where all are welcome.

Your partner in the Gospel,

Pastor Gretchen