The Power of Names

June 26th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

What’s in a name?” begins the famous quote by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

But we know that there is power in names-both bad and good. Being called a derogatory name hurts our feelings.

Yet when someone remembers our name after meeting only once, it feels good to be recognized.

This Sunday we are reminded of the one name we all share as God’s beloved people-child of God. No matter what other names we go by, this is the name that is the core of our identity.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

Turbulent Waters

June 18th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

An old French prayer says, “O Lord, my boat is so small and the sea is so great.” This Sunday’s gospel reading is filled with turbulent water. We all have experienced storms in our lives-whether emotional, physical or spiritual. Sometimes we’re even called into the storms that come from following Jesus. Either way, the water of baptism reminds us not to fear. In faith we trust that we are not alone in our small boats-Jesus is with us. Faith gives us the courage we need to weather the storms of life.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

It’s a Mystery

June 12th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

It’s a Mystery!” That’s a line from the movie “Shakespeare in Love” that gets repeated in several scenes. But it’s also a line that could be used in the parable we’ll hear this Sunday 

(Mark 4:26-29).

Like the farmer in that parable we too plant seeds that we hope will grow God’s kingdom on earth. But how it grows is often a mystery. 

Like seeds buried in the ground, God is often at work in hidden ways and we just need to wait and be patient that growth will come

As the character in the movie says, “Strangely enough, it all turns out well.” “How,” he is asked? “I don’t know, it’s a mystery.” 

If you’d rather watch that scene, click the link here:

Join us this Sunday as we reap the harvest of God’s kingdom in our joyful, hope-filled worship, reminded again that in God’s time, all turns out well!

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

“It’s not my fault!”

June 4th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

It’s not my fault!” How many times have you said those words when you realize you’ve made a mistake but don’t want to admit it? So we make it another’s fault. The dog ate my homework. The car in front of me stopped too quickly. My partner didn’t write it down on the calendar. Blaming goes all the way back to Adam and Eve, whose story we’ll hear in worship this Sunday (Genesis 3:8-15).

The good news is that God doesn’t reject us when we make mistakes. We can own up and be forgiven. With grace enough to forgive one another. Thanks be to God!

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

June Newsletter: Changes ahead…Share your ideas!

June 1st, 2015

On the heels of our special congregational meeting yesterday, I was reminded of the prophet Isaiah’s words: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (43:18-19, The Message).

Indeed God is about to do something brand new here after members voted to approve the Council recommendation to lease our administration building to Brighton Hall (BH). Assuming BH accepts the new lease prepared by our lawyer, they will begin making renovations at their expense starting July 1st with occupancy on September 15, 2015. The details of the Council’s Capital Structure and Funding Strategy were e-mailed and sent to all our members and discussed at the meeting on May 31st.

The bigger question now is why are we doing this? The simple answer is for mission: to carry on the ministry that God has entrusted to our church for the past 74 years. With the money from BH, combined with a loan from the ELCA Mission Investment Fund, we will not only secure our daily operations as a church for the foreseeable future, we will also be able to reach out to the wider community with the message of God’s love. That will happen as we create a more welcoming presence by upgrades to our property, and as we create new program uses in our fellowship hall to serve the community.

What will those new ministry initiatives look like? That’s where YOU come in! Now that we know we are moving forward with plans for the property, we have time to envision our mission in a fuller, strategic way. This will include sharing hopes and dreams amongst ourselves as we gather to consider what we could be doing in the next 5, 10 years. It will also include listening to our allies and partners in the community. Taking this time to gather input from as many people as possible, will help us discern the brand new thing God is about to do. Trusting in the Spirit’s guidance, we will move forward making sure that our much needed facility renovations are truly aligned with our mission priorities.

This will be a very busy month of transition as we move our current office and program space from the administration building to the church and fellowship hall. We will need all hands on deck! Please watch for details about how you can help out. In addition to physical labor, keep our church in your prayers as together we stay alert and present for the new thing God is doing in our midst!

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Gretchen