Pastor’s Message: God is our refuge and strength

Greetings Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

Dios es nuestro amparo y fortaleza,” (“God is our refuge and strength,”)

Psalm 46:1 

The summer has flown! Where has it gone? I pray yours was filled with good memories and feeling Christ present in your life to help you amidst all circum-stances. Whatever your summer was like, remember we serve a crucified and risen Christ, who continually calls us to pivot, admit our failings, offer up our heartaches and deepest desires, and trust in his abundant grace and mercy. Thanks be to God, our gracious Lord, continues to make all things new, so we can have hope in the midst of the most impossi-ble situations, strength when we turn to and trust in him, and reconciliation with our loved ones, enemy, and neighbor through his grace on the cross gifted to us in baptism, Holy Communion, and absolution after individual and corporate confession.

I give thanks to God for the prayerful contributions you all have made to the life of the church in our time together and pray that it continues to bear fruit for the sake of the world to the glory of God! I look for-ward to this next part of the transition season as we welcome back those traveling over the summer, visitors, and begin our worship at 8:30am and 11:00am and attend Sunday School/Adult Forum to grow in Christ’s love and grace together. 

As the fall brings crisp apples, cooler weather, festivals, sports, and bustling schedules, remember to make time for God. Pick up a devotion guide on the usher shelf in the foyer or call and ask Kim to mail you one, worship and serve together and commit to learning something about what God has to say about the state of our world and our baptismal vocation to work for God’s justice and peace in the world.

Churchwide Assembly (CWA) brought together over 900 people to worship and pray together, elect the bishop, and vote on resolutions that help guide the church in following Jesus to the cross. The one day I was in attendance as part of my chaplain education and training conference, I felt the Holy Spirit moving through the assembly and returned renewed in my faith, giving thanks to God for Christ’s grace, our church and its commitment to following Jesus in divisive and opportune times to shine his light in the world. 

The ELCA has been doing scriptural study and the church’s faithful response to loving our neighbor and issues of justice and peace, since its formation in 1988. The most recently prayed over, faithfully stud-ied, and voted on resolutions and memorials are found in this newsletter. Some of it may be news to you and some may have prayed that the church would finally speak up for those who are being op-pressed and treated inhumanely in our society. I am proud that the church voted to continue its mission to be a sanctuary to those who are fleeing violence, danger, and abuse. The term sanctuary has been misused in the political arena and media, but the church building and God has always been a sanctuary for the marginalized, oppressed, poor, those fleeing violence, the sick, the orphan, and the widow. As part of CWA, there was a prayer walk, protected by police officers, which led to a worship service and plea to Homeland Security to close the detention camps that separate children from their families and to work for just immigration reform. Please take some time to read up on the important work of AMMPARO, Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Accompaniment, Representation, and 

Opportunities. Also, please read Bishop Tracie Bartholomew’s article in response to CWA (see page 4). 

Sometimes the chasm between what was voted on and our own familiarity with the topic can be closed a little by intentional prayer, study, dialogue, and worship. It helps to pray for an open heart, mind, and ears and to see what God is saying in those places that make us uncomfortable. In our baptism we are joined to God’s family and are the body of Christ for the world who proudly proclaims that we are justi-fied by grace through faith alone, and in baptism Christ calls us from death to new life, not to just exist for ourselves, but to bear one another’s burdens, love our neighbor as ourselves and work for justice and peace in the world. How is Christ calling you to love and serve your neighbor?

My German/English speaking mother said, (when she was no longer able to open her eyes and awaited our Lord to take her to him), “Vaya con Dios,” Go with God. 

Perpetual Joy in Christ’s Service, 

+pastor alexis