November Newsletter

October 30th, 2015

Dear disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

What are your plans for the holidays?” Now that it’s November that’s a question we are starting to hear more often. People are getting ready for Thanksgiving, which usually means a feast with family and friends where we celebrate one another and our blessings. Yet for us as Christians, we celebrate around a meal not just once a year, but every week as we gather around the Lord’s Table for the “Eucharist” which means thanksgiving.

On Sunday Nov. 1st we recognize six of our young people who have completed instruction about the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, and give thanks that they will regularly join our “family” for the special meal where we receive Jesus’ love and forgiveness. And as they learned, we go from the table in church out into the world, so all may know God’s gifts. That’s the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving-when beyond celebrating our own blessings, we recognize in our true Host one who wants everyone brought to the table.

In our own community, November is also “BTAC Month” when we share our blessings with others through our partnership with Burbank Temporary Aid Center. Once again BTAC will be the recipient of the offerings collected at our Interfaith Community Thanksgiving service on Sunday Nov. 22nd at 7pm. Last year our church hosted this celebration which brought together people from local congregations and the wider community, and this year it will be held at Burbank Temple Emmanu El.

As we prepare to celebrate our national day of thanksgiving, we pray as a community of faith: “Almighty God, your generous goodness comes to us new every day. By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 61).

With gratitude,

Pastor Gretchen

All Things Possible

October 9th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

In the Gospel for Sunday a rich man’s wealth gets in the way of his relationship with God and generosity to others. That still happens today when we care more about our stuff than our faith. But there are other things that can also get in the way of our relationship with God: negative self-talk, unwillingness to trust, not believing that anything can change.

What keeps you from living the abundant life Jesus came to bring? Join your sisters and brothers in Christ this Sunday at 10am, as we are reminded of Jesus’ love and acceptance which make “all things possible” by God’s grace.

See you in church,
Pastor Gretchen

Keep Asking Questions

September 18th, 2015

Have you ever failed to ask a question out of fear or embarrassment? Someone once said, “Never be afraid to ask questions! It’s better to seem a fool for a minute than to be one for the rest of your life.” Asking questions doesn’t necessarily mark a lack of intelligence. It’s a mark of curiosity and eagerness to learn.  And when it comes to faith, when we ask honest questions within the safety of the community, God draws closer to help us better understand and grow as Christians.

So keep asking–even if the answers may take awhile–even if they never come. The Spirit is at work as we engage together in conversation about what it means to be faithful people of God.

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

A Promise is a Promise

February 20th, 2015

We all know what it feels like when someone hasn’t kept their promise to us, or when we have let others down. In our readings this Sunday we’re reminded of the everlasting promises God establishes with us and all creation, and that God always makes good on those promises.

Join your community of faith on this First Sunday in Lent as together we make the journey to Easter, returning to God with heart, mind, body and soul.

Ash Wednesday 2015

February 17th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Tomorrow we enter into the 40 day journey to Easter which is known as Lent. This is the time of year to nurture our spiritual life. Not only do we prepare ourselves to celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also the death and resurrection that continually takes place within us.

From the Middle Ages it became the custom to begin Lent by being marked in ash with the sign of the cross. As we are reminded of our mortality, sin and brokenness, we are drawn to turn again to God who alone is the source of healing and new life.

I invite you to make time for worship with your community of faith (Wednesdays 7:30pm and Sundays 10am), along with engaging in the other spiritual disciplines of Lent–fasting, prayer and works of love–returning to God who creates a new spirit within us.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

The Baptism of our Lord

January 9th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

As we observe The Baptism of our Lord this Sunday, we also remember the blessings we receive in baptism: forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, a community of faith and everlasting life. Come and celebrate the grace-filled water of life through which God accepts us as beloved sons and daughters!

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen