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

God’s Power Made Perfect in Weakness

August 21st, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Our culture worships the powerful-usually meaning those who are rich, famous, or have political clout. Even in religious circles we hold up successful mega-churches as ” bigger is better,” or equate those who lead highly disciplined, ethical lives as more ” holy” with greater personal power.

But Paul turns our usual notions of power upside down when he says ” whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” We worship a God who doesn’t just use the mighty, the gifted, the morally virtuous. Our God uses flawed and imperfect people-like us-to do amazing things.

When we rely not on our own power, but on God’s power, we trust that God’s grace is sufficient, and God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

The Good Shepherd

April 24th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

One of my favorite hymns is Marty Haugen’s “Shepherd Me, O God” based on Psalm 23:

Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

This Sunday we are reminded of the Good Shepherd who invites us to know the abundant life he came to bring, and to extend the invitation to others.

May the love and compassion of Jesus flow through our lives, so all may know God’s grace and mercy.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen

It is a holy thing to be called by name.

April 1st, 2015

Dear disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

One of the greatest privileges of being a pastor is the opportunity to be the bearer of God’s grace, by placing the bread into each outstretched hand during Holy Communion as I say the words: “This is the body of Christ given for you.” And because the size of our congregation is such that I know most of those who worship here, I am able to add the name of who is receiving the bread to personalize those words.

It is a holy thing to be called by name. It means we are seen, we are noticed, we are recognized for the unique person we are. In the Gospel of John’s story of the Resurrection, Jesus’ identifying Mary by name becomes life-giving. When she arrives at  the empty tomb and discovers that Jesus is not there, Mary becomes visibly distraught. Convinced someone has stolen the body of her teacher and friend she’s paralyzed, weeping outside. When she turns around and sees Jesus standing there, she is still overcome with sadness, thinking he must be the gardener. Only when he calls her by name, “Mary!” does she recognize him, running to share the good news with the others (John 20:1-18).

In the season of Easter that begins this Sunday, April 5th we rejoice that God knows each of us by name. Since the day we were born God sees us and knows us, down to the number of hairs on our head. When we were brought to the waters of baptism, each of us was named and claimed as God’s very own child. And when we feel worn down by life’s journey, and alone in our pain, Jesus calls us by name once again to raise us to new life. As you listen and watch the video below may you be filled with the joy of Easter, trusting that God knows you by name.

He Knows My Name-McRaes LYRICS

Joy and peace,

Pastor Gretchen