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

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