.: NOTES FROM PASTOR JEFF:.
Ever since our humble beginning in 1870, St. John has been a Lutheran congregation. As Lutherans we are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Beginning January 1, 1988, three large church bodies, with shared beliefs and missions, officially formed the ELCA. This spirit-driven church is composed of 4.8 million members and nearly 10,500 congregations across the U.S. and Caribbean. Today, the ELCA reflects the rich and diverse heritage of the people it serves.
As you know, we don’t necessarily push “Lutheran” at our church. We are Christians first. Many of us come to St. John from other traditions. Or we come from no tradition at all. Many of us, began being and doing church right here. Still, we are a Lutheran Church. We have been for about 150 years. So it’s fair to ask, “What exactly makes us Lutheran?” I’ve put together a top 10 list:
1. We’re really big on grace. We get that heaven is ours not because of what we’ve done for God but because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
2. We love the Bible. We believe it is an inspired and living Word; word for word the Word of God.
3. We love music. From the very beginning Lutherans were called “the singing church.” We’re one of those.
4. We are evangelical. We’re all about the Good News of Jesus Christ, living by it and getting it out through our words and deeds (but mostly through our deeds).
5. As a church born out of the Reformation we see change and growth as a good thing (even though we don’t always like it).
6. We are sacramental, seeing in both Baptism and the Communion not something we do for God, but something God does for us as God brings us grace and forgiveness.
7. We believe everyone has a calling to serve the Lord. We like to call it equipping. Luther called it “the priesthood of all believers.”
8. We believe that apart from Jesus Christ, there is no way of salvation. This belief drives us to share the Good News of Jesus with others for heaven’s sake.
9. We’re all about growing up as Christians, emphasizing Christian education at all levels.
10. We see the family as the primary setting for living out and passing on our Christian faith and values.
I know, other traditions cherish some of these same values; but these really are at the core of what it means to be Lutheran. And, they are also at the core of what it means to be a Christian.
Yours, in His service,
Rev. Dr. Jeffery G. Gramza