Hope Lutheran Church
This Changes Everything!
This summer a youth leader encouraged a group of adult leaders to discuss what the “THIS” is, in the phrase we’ve come accustomed to hearing throughout our life together, This changes everything. Today I encourage you to wonder what the “THIS” is for you. Is it the community and fellowship we enjoy together at Hope? Is it the good news of God’s love and forgiveness? Is it music, grace, bread and wine, a sense of belonging, the example of faith from our young people and mentors, God’s unconditional welcome, or is “this” something else?
In whatever way you’ve come to experience the love of God in Christ Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, chances are pretty good you first heard about that guy named Jesus from a Sunday School teacher, a trusted adult you looked up to, family member or friend. It’s also pretty likely your faith was nurtured by a community of believers who came alongside you to point out that God was with you, for you, had chosen you, and because of “THIS”, everything was changed.
Here at Hope we’ve been sharing “THIS” for 99 years as an official congregation, and next summer we will celebrate our 100th. As our fall programming kicks off now in September, I can’t wait to witness what God is up to in our classrooms, sanctuary, and community. I’m excited to witness what God is up to in the lives of our fellow members, in the lives of our neighbors here in our places, and in the lives of our neighbors who live halfway around the world. THIS shapes our life together. THIS empowers us as children of God. THIS guides our ministry and mission as we Welcome all people, Enrich one another’s lives, and Send each other out to Serve as we Proclaim the Gospel.
In the coming weeks you are invited to engage in some special ministry events, participate in intentional conversation about your household’s and our congregation’s stewardship, and join in one of the many educational, service, mission, or enrichment opportunities that are a part of our life together. Here are a few highlights of this coming month.
Sunday, September 9: Rally Sunday
This year we will hear from our young people who gathered for Vacation Bible School, Bible Camp, a National Youth Gathering, a Mission Trip to Minneapolis, and more! We will hear about what they learned, how they faithfully served, and had fun to boot. Be here for the start of Sunday school, and festive worship! Beyond this, this day serves as a kickoff for numerous other ministries here at Hope.
Sunday, September 23: Stewardship Kickoff
You are invited again this year to participate in Hope’s Stewardship Relay! I believe what happens here at Hope makes a difference for our lives of faith, and for the life of our neighbor. I invite and encourage all families at Hope to begin a conversation about how you will support our mission and ministry with your time, talents and treasures in 2018!
Sunday, September 30: God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday
God’s Work, Our Hands is an ELCA wide day when Lutherans get out in the community to worship in service to our neighbors. We will gather at 8:30am for a short, all congregation worship. (There will be no 10:30 worship) We will have service opportunities for all ages and abilities at Hope and throughout the community. At 11-11:30, we will gather back at Hope for lunch. Signups are available for particular service areas at the display in the entryway. Signup soon!
Tuesday, October 16: Dave Anderson & Roger Walck Concert
Join us on the Tuesday evening as we welcome back Dave Anderson and Roger Walck to lead us in a free and festive concert! Dave and Roger work together in support of Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat, a special counseling ministry for burned-out and emotionally wounded Protestant ministers and their spouses. You may remember them from the Rescue Story. In 1993, God used incredibly heroic men to rescue Dave, his wife Barbara, and five others from 36-degree water after their plane crashed into the Bering Sea while returning from a missionary and humanitarian mission in the Russian Far East. All seven men and women survived what could not be survived!
This is just the beginning! There are plenty of opportunities besides these ones to engage our life together in this place. Remember, the church (that’s you and me) exists not for ourselves, but for the sake of the world. I pray God will so equip us this year that we might continue to be a beacon of light for our neighbors here and around the world.
Some thoughts from Pastor Bob…
Last month, we focused on Luke’s message to his friend, Theophilus. Luke was concerned that Theophilus would fully understand the story of Jesus and His love.
Luke focuses on Jesus’f inal journey to Jerusalem. This journey becomes the means by which Jesus became the fulfillment of John 1:29… John the Baptist’s declaration about Jesus…”behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
We remember that Luke, a Gentile Physician, is writing primarily for the benefit of Gentiles (us). He had ministered with St. Paul, beginning at Acts 20:1-6. Luke identifies his faith in Christ by calling Him Master.
For us Gentiles, the story of the Good Samaritan becomes our example, as believers in Jesus, how we are to minister to people wh have been injured by attacks upon their lives by enemies of their body, soul and spirit.
As believers in Jesus’ love for us, we are equipped by the Holy Spirit to love our neighbor as ourselves. Question! Whom have you lived in Christ? Who has loved you into Christ? Who has been the Good Samaritan in our lives? Think on this! Name them to yourself. Thank them for being your Good Samaritan. Read the Good Samaritan story again in Luke 15:11-32.
Rev. Bob Dennis, Hope Lutheran Visitation Pastor