October 2015 Newsletter

October 1st, 2015

Dear disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Last month in a sermon called “Good Question!” I said that it’s ok to ask questions about faith. In fact, not only is it ok, it’s probably necessary. When we struggle honestly with one another about who God is, and what it means to be a Christian, we open ourselves to a deeper spiritual life. We admit that there is Mystery greater than our own understanding; and that faith grows more through a spirit of curiosity and imagination, through dialogue and discovery, more than through certainty and answers.

That Sunday I invited those in worship to write down one question about faith, God or the Bible and put it in the offering plate. Not surprisingly, several people asked a similar question in different ways:
Why do we have so much pain in life?
Why does God allow people to suffer—especially people who live good lives?
Why do humans get ill? Is it a sign of lack of faith?
Does God allow us to go through terrible hardships as a growth?

These are all questions that have been pondered and debated forever by theologians and philosophers. They all deal with the problem of theodicy—how a good God could allow bad things to happen. It would take many pages to fully address this problem. But let me share with you a few of my own thoughts.

First, God wants the best for us and the world that God created good. I don’t believe that when something bad happens it’s “for a reason.” We simply live in a world that is broken and imperfect, where sin, sickness and evil exist. Because we were created with free will, God does not force or coerce our behavior.

But God is continually wooing us by the love shown most clearly through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God stirs up the gift of faith so that we will trust in God’s grace. And all we need is the tiniest bit—no bigger than a tiny mustard seed of faith. God does not punish us with sickness or suffering because we don’t have enough faith, or because we need to be taught a lesson. God can, however, transform even our worst experiences into healing opportunities, so that we can affirm with St. Paul, “….that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Paul also said that although now we can only see through a glass dimly, there will come a time when we will see God clearly, face to face, and all our questions will be answered. In the meantime, know this: that God wants nothing more than to come alongside us, to share our struggles and challenges, so that through our relationship with him we will grow in faith and love.

Seeking with you,
Pastor Gretchen

Jesus Prays for Us

May 14th, 2015

Jesus prays for us. Do you ever think about that? We pray for one another and we pray for ourselves, but Jesus also prays for us knowing intimately the challenges and struggles we face every day. That was the assurance he gave to his first disciples before he left them, and it’s the assurance he gives us too, “so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.(John 17:13)

I invite you to know the joy of being part of the community for whom Jesus prays, as we gather for worship again this week.

Come be renewed and refreshed!

February 6th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Sometimes life on a good day can be tiring and exhausting. Then add in the burden of sickness, or a work crisis, or complicated relationship, and it can leave us overwhelmed. In the midst of whatever challenges we face, listen to this inspiring poetry: “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 31).

Come be renewed and refreshed this Sunday at 10am by our God who heals and empowers us!

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen