First Sunday of Christmas

December 26th, 2014

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

We continue our celebration on the First Sunday of Christmas hearing the stories of prophets Simeon and Anna who greet the newborn babe in the temple with joy in seeing God’s promise fulfilled. Enjoy this contemporary arrangement of Simeon’s praise of God:

Like our ancestors in faith, we too give thanks for the gift of Jesus we hold in our hands each week in the bread of Holy Communion, giving us strength to spread the good news he brought into our world.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

Christmas is coming!

December 19th, 2014

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Christmas is less than a week away. Is that terrifying? Are you feeling crazed and unprepared? Then you’ll want to be in worship this Sunday as the young people of our congregation remind us in their Christmas play, that the love of God does not depend on how we feel or what our circumstances are. We can be rich or poor, handsome or homely, talented or average, but God’s love is constant through moments of trial and moments of triumph.”

Join us on the 4th Sunday in Advent at 10am as we prepare our hearts to receive Jesus, the true gift of Christmas.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

A Christmas Message from President Deyo Blake

December 18th, 2014

A Christmas Message from your president

Happiest of holidays dear congregation.

It’s that most wonderful time of the year. And also one of the most stressful on the commercial side. I get caught up in it with all my fellow shoppers. When this happens I tend to forget that I am waiting for the divine providence that is in store for us all. What an incredible day that will be. Inconceivable, unimaginable, incomprehensible, beyond all mystery and fully majestic in every aspect.

I’m certainly not an Advent scholar and my schedule has prevented me from attending the great talks on the subject hosted by dear Pastor Gretchen but my naïve take on its meaning is that God wants us to simply think about him, his presence, his plan, his gracious mercy and mostly his spectacular love. He wants us to have, as best we can, conscious contact with him as much and as often as possible. Advent is the great tool for helping this happen.

I get up every day at 5:00 a.m. and meditate for 20 minutes in the dark and to the purr of the space heater.   I usually just count my breaths and sometimes feel a little impatient. Especially if I have a particularly challenging day ahead.   I want to rehearse all my responsibilities and sometimes try to figure out how I can get out of them. But during Advent it seems like I’m more able to just allow myself to know that for at least this 20 minutes I can just feel safe and assured that all is as it should be and God is listening. I can imagine being held and comforted.   And most important, I can be reminded that throughout the day, and always, I can feel this way. I can always go back to just thinking about our Lord God and Savior and the peace that comes with the contemplation of Jesus and his sacrifice on our behalf. What he already knew and what he must have been thinking as he fulfilled his mission.

We are rapidly approaching a new year with its many new opportunities and challenges. Let’s take the time as it comes up to pause and give thanks for all the blessings we enjoy. They are too innumerable to count actually. Let’s think about our God a little more frequently and what it means to wait for the day when reality will be remade. That day is in store for us all. The realization makes us just better human beings with a greater responsibility to demonstrate this awareness to those who live in a state of troubled slumber.

The Peace of the Lord be with you all.

Deyo Blake

Congregation Council President

Blessing of the Pets

December 3rd, 2014

Please join us on Saturday, December 6th at 5:00pm for a special ceremony where we give thanks for the special animals in our lives that bring us so much joy and happiness.

For safety reasons, please be sure your pet is leashed or in an appropriate cage or crate.

Refreshments for both pets and people will be provided afterward.

All are welcome!

Blessing of the Pets 2014

Hanging of the Greens

December 3rd, 2014

Please join us on Friday, December 5th at 6:30pm for our annual St. Nicholas Day “Hanging of the Greens.” We will start with a potluck and then work together to decorate the sanctuary for Christmas.

Everyone is welcome!

 

St. Nicholas Day Flyer

Waiting

December 3rd, 2014

Waiting is not something I enjoy. I don’t like waiting for the traffic to move when I’m stuck on the freeway. I don’t like waiting for test results after a doctor’s visit. I don’t like waiting for the changes that need to happen to create a more peaceful, fair and just world. Waiting feels like a dry desert between where I am and where I want to be.

But Scripture encourages us to wait: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in God’s word I hope” (Psalm 130:5). And the season of Advent is what waiting is all about. Particularly at the time of year when we feel most rushed and busy getting ready for the holidays, Advent is the time we slow down to recognize what, or who we are waiting for.

As I write this article I’m waiting for my two sons to arrive for Thanksgiving. Just the prospect of their arrival makes me happy as Will and I prepare for the meals, activities and time we’ll spend together.

In the same way, Advent is a joyful, hopeful time for Christians as we reflect on the life-changing gift of Christ in our lives. Therefore I invite you to enter fully into this season of expectation through prayer, worship, fellowship and study:

  • Download an Advent devotional for your prayer time at home luthersem.edu/advent
  • Worship each Sunday of Advent at 10am with your community of faith;
  • Join us for the “Hanging of the Greens” potluck and decorating the church, Friday Dec. 5th at 6:30pm;
  • Participate in the Advent Bible Study “Church in Waiting” either Wednesday nights at 7pm or Sundays at 11:30am.

In the words of spiritual writer Henri Nouwen, quoted in the clip below, “Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about Him for whom we are waiting.”

May your Advent time of waiting be filled with expectant hope, increasing the joy of your Christmas celebration of God’s greatest gift to us in Jesus!

Pastor Gretchen