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


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

Jesus Prays for Us

May 14th, 2015

Jesus prays for us. Do you ever think about that? We pray for one another and we pray for ourselves, but Jesus also prays for us knowing intimately the challenges and struggles we face every day. That was the assurance he gave to his first disciples before he left them, and it’s the assurance he gives us too, “so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.(John 17:13)

I invite you to know the joy of being part of the community for whom Jesus prays, as we gather for worship again this week.

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

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

Come as you are

January 30th, 2015

Dear Disciples of Jesus at American Lutheran,

Ever feel like you have to hide those parts of yourself you don’t want others to see? That you have to clean up your act before you come to worship? Not so, says Lutheran seminary professor David Lose: “Our God is a God of the broken, and our church is a fellowship of the needy.”  All it takes to be a follower of Jesus in the community of faith is to recognize your deep need and trust that Jesus has come to meet it.

See you in church,

Pastor Gretchen