May Newsletter: Transformations and New Beginnings

April 29th, 2015

Dear disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

I’ve been watching the TV series A.D. recently which is about the beginnings of the early church. Although I’m one of those people who usually likes the book better than the movie, I have to say that watching this series brings the book of the Bible alive in a visual way. It’s striking to see the change in the disciples after the Holy Spirit comes upon them in wind and fire 50 days after Easter. They are transformed from fearful followers to bold witnesses of Jesus, many becoming the first martyrs of Christianity.

50 days after Easter, on May 24th the Day of Pentecost, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit not only in the past but also in the present. For God continues to blow in our midst now to transform us, too. I?m reminded of the story a grandfather told about his grandson who had an inner ear problem. His mother told him that in order to help him get better she was going to take him to a chiropractor. But the eager three year old thought¬† she was going to take him to see a “firecracker.” One makes an adjustment, the other makes an explosion.

Sometimes all we want in life is to be adjusted. For God to fish us out of whatever mess we?re in; to make life more comfortable without making any changes. But Pentecost reminds us that the Holy Spirit came to transform us. To explode whatever old ways keep us bound in our fears, so we might be energized with new power from on high.

As I write this, our Council is still in negotiation with Brighton Hall about their possible use of our Administration building. We are also assessing the use of our property by other groups. And whatever we decide about how our physical space should be utilized, that is only secondary to the mission we will be discerning together as a congregation. We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that changes will certainly be part of that future.

Even more we know that the Spirit is still moving, forming us to be creative, confident, courageous proclaimers of God’s love and grace. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann says that we have a stunning vocation as Christians: “to stand free and hope-filled in a world gone fearful?and to think, imagine, dream, vision a future that God will yet enact.”

I am extremely hope-filled as I look at all the ministry happening in our congregation right now:  a community thinking, dreaming, and envisioning a future that God will enact. In our worship, our study, our fellowship, our service, our outreach, the Spirit is indeed empowering us as faithful followers of Jesus Christ!

Led by the Spirit,

Pastor Gretchen