Grace

October 23rd, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Grace. That’s what it’s all about for us Lutherans, going all the way back to the 16th century Reformation, which we celebrate this Sunday. As Paul wrote even earlier in the 1st century, we are “justified by faith apart from works” (Romans 3:28) solely by the grace of God. Think of it this way: 

There is nothing you can do that will make God Love you more.

There is nothing you can do that will make God Love you less. 

That’s the promise given to us in baptism. And the promise that three of our youth declare publicly this Sunday as they affirm their baptism in the Rite of Confirmation.

We have much to celebrate this week as we live in God’s amazing grace!

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

Living Joyfully in Service

October 16th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Albert Schweitzer, Lutheran theologian and medical missionary in Africa, once said:
I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

Jesus reminds us of the same thing. When we live only for ourselves we become self-absorbed and competitive, constantly trying to secure our position and future, just like James and John who wanted to sit at his right hand and left in the kingdom. But when we know our future has already been secured through Christ’s death and resurrection, we are freed to live joyfully in service to one another.

See you in church,
Pastor Gretchen

September Newsletter

August 28th, 2015

Dear disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

I don’t know how I would have ever gotten through this without my faith!” How many times have I heard that sentiment from others-as well as said it myself. Whether the “this” is a failed relationship, an unexpected illness, a pink slip at work, or something else, when a crisis hits we need support. And for us as Christians, we have the support of our faith and our church to give us hope in the midst of despair.

But not everyone has that kind of support. Some may have grown up in the church and fallen away. Some may have had a bad experience with church and rejected it. Others may have never heard of God’s promises, or thought they were for them.

That’s why our congregation is participating in National Back to Church Sunday on September 20th. We are asking you to take a look around and invite a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend to worship that day. This isn’t a sales pitch to get more people in the pew or offerings in the plate. This is a way that we may reach out to those who need what we all need-real hope in a world that too often feels hopeless. Following worship we will continue our hospitality with a potluck lunch, helping us get to know the guests who join us that day.

Take a look at the video invitation below. Then pray about who you might invite to discover the hope that can transform lives through a relationship with our loving Lord, and the living body of Christ in the community of faith.


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…plans to give you hope and a future.….” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Your hopeful servant of Christ,

Pastor Gretchen

 

Our Hands are Open in Generosity

August 13th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

There’s a song that we sometimes sing in church with this refrain: “….they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” And that love is seen most clearly in real, concrete actions—like the way we respond to those who are hungry and hurting.

Generosity to the poor is an ongoing theme through the Gospels. For Paul, generosity is one of the fruits of faith. It shows that God is at work in our lives. It doesn’t matter how much we give: “….if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

The key is that when our hearts are opened to the stirring of the Spirit, our hands are open in generosity.

For a real-life story of amazing generosity, from the open hands of two young children, please take a couple minutes and watch this inspiring video:

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

Don’t Lose Hope

July 23rd, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Life is full of ups and downs. And when we find ourselves feeling discouraged and disappointed for whatever reason, it can test our faith as we wonder if God even cares. Yet Paul reminds us that no matter what happens we do not lose hope because Christ is our hope:We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

This Sunday we begin a 5-part series, “A Heart for Reconciliation,” based on Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Corinth. As we delve more deeply into this New Testament book, may our hearts be opened in love to God and our neighbor.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

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

Like Branches Connected to a Vine

April 30th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

We know that love is at the heart of our Christian faith. We also know how hard it is to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s especially hard when those neighbors don’t think and act like we do. Simply put we are not capable of loving as Christ has loved us. But because we are connected to Christ, like branches connected to a vine, we can do what God calls us to do: bear the good fruit of love to all people.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

Transformed

March 20th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

In his book Falling Upward, Richard Rohr writes that “…the great difference between transformed and non-transformed people” is that “great people come to serve, not to be served.Indeed, everything changes when we stop worrying and grasping for what we can get for ourselves, and focus instead on what we can give to others.

As our Lenten journey brings us with Jesus closer to the cross, we’re reminded that we find our lives in losing them; and that the path of suffering and dying leads to resurrection and new life.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

Fresh Eyes

March 6th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

So did you see the black and blue dress or the white and gold one? As the dressgate debate was being played out last week in the media, it showed how different people can see the same thing in different ways. And how we can become so rigid in one interpretation, that it doesn’t allow for other perspectives.

Jesus came to give us fresh eyes to see in a new way. So that together we might work to make God’s vision the new reality in our lives and world.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen