Welcome Christ Concord!

After a year of conversations with the Synod, four months of transition team meetings, a couple of pastoral letters and six town meetings, Christ Lutheran on Sunday, August 13, voted overwhelmingly to merge with Family of Faith in Concord, making it a third campus of our church and renaming it Christ Concord.  In addition, we extended a call to Pastor Paul Myers by a vote of 356 to 14 to lead that congregation.  It is an exciting time to be a part of Christ Lutheran!

The mood at the congregational meeting was exuberant!  Overwhelming tears of gratitude were shed as members of Family of Faith were physically embraced at the meeting and welcomed into the family of Christ Lutheran.  Words of support and promises of commitment were shared as together we venture into this unchartered territory of doing mission in a new age.

Now the hard work begins.  Membership migration, new worship services, additional staff, website design, asset transfers, upfitting new technology, rebranding, handshakes with the community and program development.  But this is what we signed up for.

How can you be a part of this?  There are several ways:

  • Prayer: We believe that the Holy Spirit is the guiding and influencing force in this bold venture.  We pray for the Spirit to remain present to provide encouragement and discernment and a sense of mission as we go forth.

  • Visit:  Christ Concord is not that far away, especially on Sunday morning.  Worship is at 10:30 and the campus is located at 240 Pitt School Rd, NW, in Concord.  Go up there and introduce yourself to your fellow members.

  • Become a Missionary:  That’s right.  We hope to send about 30 members from Christ Providence to be regular worshippers at Christ Concord for at least a year to help infuse that campus with energy, spirit, and volunteer hours.

Thank you for your trust in this vision. Thank you for your commitment to the mission of Christ Lutheran.  And thank you for your faith in our bold God.  While mainline denomination continue to decline in membership, finances and vitality, we won’t accept this trend as God’s will for His Church.  God wants His Church to grow and His people to be transformed. Old ways of doing church no longer work.  New ways are needed.  But more importantly, new leaders and innovative churches must arise to lead and met this challenge.

We are Reformation People, celebrating 500 years.  That was not a one and done event in 1517 but instead, defined us forever as Always Reforming.  And Christ Lutheran continues in that same Spirit.

Thanks Be To God,

Pastor Scott

Preparing

You don’t want to hear it!  I can’t believe it’s almost time! We need to start preparing for——SCHOOL!!!  Yes, school will start back in a few short weeks. The school supply aisles in stores remind you of Black Friday sales but adorned with happy parents with reluctant kids by their sides.  Parents and kids sort through new backpacks, new clothing, new pencils and sharpeners, markers and crayons. Oh, preparing for the dreaded first day comes with stomachs of anguish mixed with just a tad of excitement.

Not only do we need to prepare our students with new clothing and supplies but also by getting them back into the routine of the early morning schedule. Yes, all summer long they were able to sleep as much as they wanted, waking up early only on those wonderful days of camp. But for the most part they enjoyed sleeping late and staying up late.  Now with summer coming to an end, we need to prepare our student to get up before the sun to get dressed, eat breakfast and catch the bus all before the rooster crows (that is if we had a rooster.)

We spend hours, sometime days, preparing for this new time of educational growth we hope for our children. We take all this time preparing just to start a new school year, yet rarely do we think about the preparation we can make for our spiritual life or the spiritual life of our children. How can we take these next few weeks and prepare not only to start school but prepare our hearts and minds for spiritual growth? How can we prepare for educational and spiritual growth?

Here is the thing about our spiritual growth, it is God’s work in us, with us. God is constantly at work in us and calls us to participate in that growth.  As part of the great commission, Jesus calls us to GO and make disciples.  It’s our calling, and it starts with us being grown into disciples ourselves. So making disciples begins with the one in the mirror. Each of us have been given the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and are being grown and molded through and by the Spirit. God is at work, in you AND with you.

Like any good time of preparation, you can participate in God’s work by setting goals, planning and taking one step at a time. First, set a goal. The only way I accomplish anything is if I set it as a goal for myself. This can be something as simple as praying as a family, going to worship more often or serving the community. Next, make a plan. Look up places to service, mark your calendar and every time you are well and in town you plan on going to worship and think of times in your day to pray. Most importantly, the biggest hurdle to accomplishing anything is taking the first step. Together let’s prepare to grow in our faith this year, and together we can take that first step…and second… and third!!!

Ephesians 2:10

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them

Blessings,

Pastor Melody

Spiders are Dumb!

Romans 8:31b – If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

I hate spiders.  Stupid little monsters.  All of them.  I mean, I like that they exist – just for the bug population control – but, I don’t want to be around them.  I spent one summer seeing those things everywhere – worst summer ever.  It’s like they were following me.  Spiders are second only to pickles in my disdain folder, but I’ll save that for another blog.

Truth be told, I don’t find that I am bothered too much by daddy long legs.  I can typically grab them up by a leg and chuck them outside, but the rest of them… NOPE.  As a matter of fact, I have developed a new NON-touch way of ridding my house of them:  the vacuum.  It’s a no squish, no touch, no surprises way to make them simply…*poof* disappear.  Crank up the vacuum, put the nozzle close to them, then FWOOMP.  Done.  Gone.  Hasta la vista baby!  Now, I know that they are just relocated into my vacuum, but still, they never get out.  At least that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I do realize that a spider fear is not something I am all alone in, but I sometimes think I go a little overboard.  Last night, as we were watching our favorite show on the couch a little booger came down from the ceiling right in my view!  That nasty little thing was staring at me and mocking my peace-filled relaxation.  I grabbed just above him, attempting to get his web string, pushed forward so as to not have him drop onto me, stood up super-fast and then spilled my drink all over myself.  Making matters worse, when I jumped up from the couch, I looked at my hand, and guess what???  No. Spider.  What the heck.  Seriously.  NOW where in the world did it go?  I, now dripping from my spilled drink, freeze in place and scan the couch, my pants, and the carpet for movement of any kind so as to be able to spot the nasty thing.

But then, I realize, this is dumb.  Spiders are dumb, yep, but my fear of them is dumber.  Fear – healthy fear – isn’t a terrible thing.  A fear of spiders in particular isn’t terrible either because some, albeit very few, can be harmful to humans.  But the irrational, exaggerated fear, isn’t a good thing.  Fear makes us do weird things.

In our lives, all too often we concentrate on fear or seek out scarcity and it causes us to freeze, or worse yet, mess up great things going on our lives.  Fear gets in the way of progress and healthy momentum for us in our families, careers, and church.  Paul writes, if the Lord is for us, who can be against us!  What a great reminder of WHOSE we are!  Furthermore, WHO we are, is a people of reformation.   This congregation is faithful, creative and bold in both vision and practice.   It’s one of the things that called me to serve here!  With all the new and exciting things going on at Christ Lutheran, I certainly have NOT been disappointed.  We are a people who do not fear.  We make bold leaps of faith for the sake of the Gospel, and if we look at what God has done here, we have the evidence in hand that being a people who are bold, and not full of fear, is the way God wants us to live out the Gospel.  Be encouraged brothers and sisters.  This is an amazing time to be here at Christ Lutheran.

For our prayer, read through Psalm 27.  Keep this one close to you at all times.  And when the “spiders” start dropping around you, pull this out and read it through again.

Be uplifted and encouraged, for the Lord our God is with us!

+ Pastor Matt


Psalm 27

Triumphant Song of Confidence

Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
    Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 If my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

 

Vuelta

Maddie Burke, a CLC member, recently completed and returned home from a year of service in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program. Her assignment was in Mexico City. Below she writes about her experience of returning home after a transformational year of ministry abroad. You can read a blog about Maddie’s YAGM year here: http://maddieenmexico.blogspot.mx/

Vuelta-like many words in Spanish, this one can have a wide variety of translations: spin, lap, round, or turn, to name a few. However, one of the translations of this word has hung heavier on my heart recently: return. The phrase dar una vuelta, which would literally translate to “to give a turn”, is often used to say “go on a stroll/walk”. As in any language, there are multiple ways to express the same idea: caminar, andar, pasear are some of the different ways to express the idea of walking/strolling. However, the phrase dar una vuelta has always implied to me the idea of going out, but eventually returning back to the place where you began. Coming home.

My last few days in Mexico were spent with my fellow YAGM-Mexico volunteers and our country coordinators in the Lutheran Center in Mexico City-literally coming full circle and finishing our year where we first began. We spend our days reflecting on our year, processing our experiences, enjoying each other’s company, and thinking about how we wanted to carry what we have learned into our next experience. During this time, we talked about the concepts of “the homeland”, “the wonderland”, and “the newfoundland” (not to be confused with Newfoundland, Canada). “The homeland”, as Lindsay explained to us, is exactly that: home. The context, families, experiences, and cultures from which we come from. “The wonderland” is the new place, context, and culture to which we go, whether it is a new city, state, or country. “The newfoundland” is the place we return to eventually, as our time in “the wonderland” is not permanent. It would naturally be assumed that “the newfoundland” is the same as “the homeland”. However, as much as we would like it to be, our homelands will never be the same, because the people and places that make them have changed in our absence. To the same respect, “the newfoundland” can seem so jarringly different, because we have changed so dramatically and are not the same people we were when we left.

The YAGM staff have encouraged us to embrace this liminal space we find ourselves in-the feeling of being “betwixt and between”. I have been back in North Carolina for a little over two weeks, and feel stretched between two different worlds, communities and cultures, with one foot firmly planted in the rich, damp, North Carolina soil, and another back in the urban jungle of Mexico City. Although I am happy to be back with family and friends and there are things about my life in Mexico that I do not miss (the traffic, the smog, spending multiple hours a day in the metro), my heart physically aches thinking of my host dads, my church, my coworkers, the taste of tacos al pastor with a Coke in the street, the heat of a room filled with salsa dancers, the ebbs and flows of Spanish, and the small corner of the crazy city where God gave me a home. This ache is the price that is paid for having loved ones in places where you are not. Part of me knows this ache will fade, as time passes, life moves on, and memories become more distant.

Part of me hopes it doesn’t.

Maddie

Town Hall Meeting FAQ

On Sunday, July 16, we had three very well attended Town Meetings at CLC and in Concord to talk about the merger with Family of Faith. I appreciate the high level of interest and the honest and tough questions that were asked. I would say that they were responsible questions that sought clarification but did not derail the process.  Because of the importance of this vote, I would like to call two additional Town Meetings on August 6 prior to the vote on August 13 to clear up any questions. These will be at 10:10 in Christ Chapel and at 12:00 in the Sanctuary.
By the way, if you missed the Town Meeting, it is posted on our website under Online Worship. So far, we’ve had almost 400 viewings on Facebook Live. Click here to watch on website.
With this letter, I wanted to capture some of the FAQs from the Town Meetings.
This feels rushed. 
I understand that even though the Council has worked a year on this merger and the transition team has been together for four months, most of the congregation feels that they have not had the time to think through the proposal. That’s why I wanted to provide the congregation with more information through this letter and with additional Town Meetings on August 6.
Why have the vote during the low times of the summer?  
True, worship attendance is down about 30% during the summer, but between the two, the Town Meetings drew in almost 200 people (which is more than most congregational meetings).  Plus, the Town Meeting in Concord had 30 people-which is more than they worship on Sunday mornings.  People are still around. As far as timing, strategically, we want to launch Christ Concord in September when people are looking for a church home for worship and Sunday School. If not September, the next strategic launch date would be the first of the year with New Years’ resolutions or Easter when people are naturally looking for a place to worship. We thought that was too long to wait.
Why are we doing this? 
There are at least two answers to that.  First, because we were asked by the Synod and by Family of Faith to help, and we are in a position like no other church to do just that.  Second, because this is central to the command of Jesus to make disciples and it is written into our mission to welcome, connect, equip and send. This is a pilot program where we seek not only to have Family of Faith become a campus of CLC but to replicate this process as we train other medium and large congregation across the Synod and country to do the same within their communities.
What is the financial impact?

Family of Faith has a balanced budget of $120,000 which is heavily subsidized by the ELCA, the Synod and Family of Faith savings, totaling about $65,000 the first year, $55,000 the second year and $45,000 the third year.  With this merger, we will incorporate both their income and expenses into the Christ Lutheran Churches overall budget. They have four acres and a nice sanctuary/ fellowship hall with no debt. While the financial risk will be minimum for these three years, we will have to add two very part time staff members (15 hours per week) to help with programs and music as well as budget for marketing, technology and program costs. To offset these costs, we will have a very intentional and focused stewardship campaign for the fall.

What is the exit strategy in case this does not work and how do we define success?
Just as Christ South is subsidized for three years by the ELCA and the Synod, so would Christ Concord.  After three to five years, worst case scenario, if there has been no growth in membership, attendance and giving at Christ Concord, the congregation of CLC would have to decide whether or not to continue the campus or sell the property or find additional partners.  In terms of success, the rule of thumb to be an independent, self sustained congregation, we need an attendance of about 100 on Sunday.  I believe that we can achieve benchmark before that three year period.
What will the worship style be at Christ Concord? 
That is yet to be determined by their own congregation and discernment team.  While they have always had a very traditional style, they currently are experimenting with a more blended sound.  Our leadership team will help them shape a worship style that is uniquely their own.
Are the people of Christ Concord in favor of this merger? 
For the most part, yes. There were no dissenting votes from their council.  At their Town Meeting, they were understandably concerned about losing their identity and assets, but Pastor Paul helped to assuage many fears by framing this merger in resurrection language. That is, for the new to rise again, we must first put to death the old.  He has been a part of this proposal even before he officially began his ministry at Family of Faith on Easter, 2017. They are people who love their congregation and are willing to step forth boldly in faith to reverse their struggles and become thriving once again.
Will there be another capital campaign? 
At this point there are no plans for another campaign. If and when there will be a campaign in the future, I would imagine it would be something that would benefit all three campuses such as land for South, debt-reduction for Providence and program space for Concord.  But again, no plans at this point for a capital campaign.
What are the demographics of the surrounding community? 
According to the Percept Group that prepared a thorough demographic study of the 1.5 mile radius surrounding Family of Faith, there is a very high projected population density with strong projected growth. The families are primarily traditional in make up and affluent. The largest group of non-white families are Asian. Overall, there is a high level of post high school education. Studies show there is a high level of receptivity to faith and high capacity to support financially. Currently, while there are many Lutheran churches in Cabarrus County, in this southwest corner nearest to Charlotte, Family of Faith stands alone as the Lutheran presence.
What will we vote on and when?  
On August 13, we will one worship service at 10:00, followed by one congregational meeting at 11:15.  Christ South will Skype in.  The vote will have two parts.  The first will be to merge with Family of Faith, Concord, and the second will be to call Pastor Paul Myers as a pastor of Christ Lutheran Church.  Constitutionally, you must be present in order to vote.
What will the preaching rotation be like? 
Currently, I preach at Christ Providence 66% of the time. That will not change. Those days I am not scheduled to preach at Providence, I will rotate in at South and Concord.
Are we losing our Lutheran identity with Christ Providence, Christ South and Christ Concord? 
No. These are primarily for internal communication for clarity as to which campus. You will tell friends that you attend Christ Lutheran Church. Where?  At our Concord, South or Providence Campus. Our sign will continue to say, “Christ Lutheran Church.”  The banner of our website will read, “Christ Lutheran Churches.”  The sign out front of Family of Faith will continue to read, “ELCA.”  The answer is no. Lutheran will remain a part of our signage, title, theology and practice.
It is a big decision for Christ Lutheran and I welcome your interests, questions and concerns. We went through this very same healthy conflict with the Children’s Center, the capital campaigns, the Ministry Center, purchasing land, building the Worship Center and opening Christ South. This dialog is necessary because this is an engaged congregation that trusts its leaders and puts their faith in God, but rightfully does its due diligence.  And for that, I am thankful.
Peace,
Scott Signature rev.
Pastor Scott

Why Concord?

This Sunday, July 16, you’ll have two opportunities to ask questions and hear more about the possibility of adding a third campus to Christ Lutheran. You can do so at 10:10 am in Center Six or 12:00 pm in the Sanctuary.

As a lead up to these gatherings, here are the top 5 reasons why I personally am excited about the possibility of adding a third campus of Christ Lutheran in Concord, NC.

  1. Explosive growth. A recent study by WalletHub found that Concord, NC is the ninth fastest growing city in the United States and the 3rd fastest growing small city in the country. Wow! Makes me think of Jesus who said, “The harvest is plentiful.”
  2. Adolphus Nussmann. This one is fun. Did you know the first Lutheran pastor to ever serve in NC, Pastor Adolphus Nussmann, was in Concord? He arrived in 1773 and served five churches from Salisbury to Concord and started 20 new congregations in the area. We would be continuing a long history of expanding Christ’s kingdom.
  3. Great Potential. In mid-June, I had the opportunity to guest preach at  Family of Faith Lutheran, the congregation we are considering merging with. They have an attractive building, a prime location surrounded by schools, neighborhoods and businesses, and a hunger to grow. I could feel it.
  4. The name, Concord. Another fun one. Is the city pronounced Con “Chord” or Con “Curd”? One news reporter who studied the pronunciation of cities, towns, and counties in NC supported the Con “Chord” route. Either way, the word Concord means peace, harmony. It’s what Jesus calls us to be about.
  5. A New Style. There are two other Lutheran congregations in Concord, St. James and Calvary, the church where I was confirmed. Both are much larger and both do traditional worship and do it well. I think there is a need for a Lutheran church that offers a more contemporary expression of worship, a style that Christ Lutheran knows a thing or two about, and this could be it.

Those are some of the reasons that have me excited, but I hope you’ll come to the Town Hall meetings this Sunday to learn more. Come and see!

In faith,

Pastor Drew

http://www.wbtv.com/story/26616468/concord-among-top-10-fastest-growing-us-cities

http://www.internationalbusinesspark.com/concord-nc-among-nations-fastest-growing-cities/

http://www.wral.com/nc-pronunciation-guide/10331495/

 

Peace, Baby!

Harmony.  Not musical harmony.  I’m talking about the kind of harmony we experience when life is good, when we’re cruising along on smooth water, when we’re rocking in our chairs and enjoying a cold beverage, when we’re playing games, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  The kind of harmony that happens when we’re all getting along, or at least talking with respect and civility about our differences, even when we disagree.

But recently, I’ve been bothered by some things.

I wrote my U.S. Congressional Representatives last week expressing my frustration that we are locked in bipartisan politics (…this is not a new phenomenon), and can’t seem to get meaningful progress on tax reform, health care reform, or many other important issues.  People in congress just don’t seem to be able to talk with one another anymore.

A recent Facebook post from a friend was chastising people who thought differently about a particular issue than they did.  There was a condescending tone to the post that even used a derogatory term (repeatedly) for those who were on the other side of the fence on this issue. This kind of language makes me not want to go play in their sandbox anymore.

Yesterday, I read an article from a seminary professor whose sole objective seemed to be to bash people who held a different theological position different than his.  His article didn’t seem to allow any room for discussion.  It was just filled with bashing and name calling for the “opposition.”

North Korea, Russia, China, Syria, and the United States…  Enough said.

I know that we can’t all get along with everyone all the time.  But, I sure wish we’d all try a little harder.  Maybe we begin by being aware of how each of us treats those around us.  Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me…

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!  Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”  Romans 12:16-18 (NLT)

Peace, my friends…

Pastor Tenny

P.S.  And, yes.  If you’re wondering.  I did live in the 1960’s…, Baby.

A Third Campus?

Yes. . .with your approval

On Monday, June 19, the church council unanimously approved a vision of merging with Family of Faith Lutheran Church in Concord in order to create a third campus of Christ Lutheran that will be renamed Christ Concord.  Family of Faith is a small, 30 year old congregation that has struggled in recent years, even though they are in a growing and vibrant community near Concord Mills and the Motor Speedway. We believe that this merger will enable us to support, coach, encourage and invigorate this community into a vibrant congregation.

This is not a satellite model that we have seen with several mega churches where each site looks and sounds exactly like the other with a star preacher on a screen. This paradigm is different. This third campus will mirror what we are doing at Christ South in many ways. We will have one membership, one council, one staff, one budget, one vision, one church and yet at the same time we will allow for individual expression at each of the three campuses in terms of worship style, program choices and outreach strategies.

There are many details yet to be worked out including technology, web site, logos, staffing, worship, finances, etc.  And we have a transition team in place working on all of those details.  What I need from you is to be a part of this important process with your participation at two events:

           Sunday, July 16 at 10:10 am (Center Six) and 12:00 pm (Sanctuary)         Town Hall Meeting
This gathering in the sanctuary after worship will be a time to ask questions, hear about the vision and participate in the process.

           Sunday, August 13 at 12:00                                                                            Congregational Vote
This gathering will vote on the vision which will include the merger of the membership, finances and property of Family of Faith into Christ Lutheran as well as calling Pastor Paul Myers (the new pastor of Family of Faith) as a pastor on staff at Christ Lutheran.

I do hope that you can attend these two meetings.   God is doing something new again at Christ Lutheran and we are trying to be faithful and bold in our obedience.  Your participation will help us in discerning this direction.

Peace,

The Experience Tells Their Story

This week our high school choir, The Experience, is on tour going across West Virginia and Ohio. While it is indeed a choir tour, it would be a disservice to the mission of the group, to “Tell The Story,” and simply leave it at that. The story of we share is the story of God’s unrelenting love for us. Much of the music we sing on this tour speaks of this unconditional love and that even when we screw up or focus on things that take us away from Christ, His love for us is fierce. That in our brokenness, God is present and making something beautiful out of our lives. Not only is he with us, but so are our friends. We know that through our lives, God is making an impact on our peers and those around us. At night, our students stay in host homes. One of the unsung benefits that host homes provide is an opportunity to share their story with strangers. These students have stories to tell and this blog is their story.

“when I was growing up, I didn’t really understand much about the church. I mean, it was like okay, well yay God and stuff but I didn’t really enjoy getting up each Sunday to get on “nice” clothes and go to church for, well, almost all day. But as I began growing up, I put myself out there more in the church, just because I like doing that, but as I learned more about my faith, I realized that God was really calling me to do these things, and through these small involvements here and there, I really became closer to God and the people around me. By the time I got confirmed, I really enjoyed going to church, so much so that my parents had to ask me to stay home after a late night. When I joined The Experience, it was a huge thing that allowed me to come closer to God, and I try to attend almost every youth event so that I can grow closer to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and well as to come closer in my faith in God.”

“I grew up at Christ Lutheran and my family has always been involved in the church. However, through middle school I was just going through the motions of going to Sunday school. I didn’t have a solid foundation for my faith, and without a strong foundation, I struggled to build and strengthen my relationship with God.  It was through Christ Lutheran that I became involved in the TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) youth program/ TEC retreats and found my solid foundation. This encouraged me to get more involved in The Experience and Sunday school because I wanted to keep growing my faith and building my relationships with the friends I had made. One of my favorite parts about Christ Lutheran is it is a space where I can build relationships with other kids who also want to be close to God and involved in the church. My high school experience would have been incredibly different without the church in my life and without the friends I have made, and I am so blessed and thankful to have grown up at Christ Lutheran Church.”

“I have always been involved in church. Being raised in the faith and supported by my parents has fostered a strong foundation for the rest of my life. Growing up this way has resulted in me lacking a sort of dazzling coming to faith story that a lot of my peers have experienced. For years I thought this meant my faith was in some way less special or important than theirs. Things like The Experience and Teens Encounter Christ have helped open my eyes to the fact that my faith story isn’t less special than theirs, just different. God has been able to use my strong foundation to help others experience those coming to faith stories, and realizing that this is a way God has used me as a disciple makes me eager to learn what he has in plan for me in the future, working as his hands and feet in a broken world.”

“My faith story…… God has brought me through so much as a teenager that there is no way anyone can convince me there is no God. I was so angry when the Lord took my Grandmother. She was my rock and my confidant. When I was down and had no one else to turn to, she was there. After a while I realized that He wanted to be that for me. He had to show me that He would always be that for me even when people didn’t care. God also showed me that he will put people directly in your life to remind you of your purpose. No matter who I thought my friends were, he showed me who my true friends were and I thank him everyday for that because without that support system I wouldn’t be where I am today. His love is truly fierce and that is why I love telling his story to others so they can experience the change in their lives as I have mine.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are the stories of your high schoolers. Believe me, they have a lot to say! We look forward to sharing our story with you this Sunday as for our homemcoming show. These students are defying the odds and bearing with one another in Christ (Ephesians 4:2). After the show, I invite you to come forward to ask the students about their trip. They have been telling the story across the country and they look forward to sharing their story with you.

See you Sunday!

Ryan Carter
High School Youth Director

Psalms in the Summer

“Their voice goes through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:4)

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 53:1)

“Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!” (Psalm 117:1)

Can you guess what the Psalm verses above have in common? Perhaps there is more than one answer. The commonality I’m thinking of is that all three are quoted in the New Testament book, Romans. To see, take a look at Romans 10:18, 3:10, and 15:11 respectively.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the Epistle (or Letter) to the Romans, drew on the Old Testament book of Psalms repeatedly. He quotes 16 different Psalms in Romans alone! It’s not surprising when you remember that Paul, a devout Jew, would have sang, read, studied, and memorized the Psalms since he was a wee little boy. The Psalms were for Paul, like Jesus, his book of prayer. He lived and breathed these mighty and powerful expressions of faith!

This summer at Christ Lutheran, our Sermon Series follows the book of Romans. We do so to celebrate the rallying cry of the Reformation, “Faith Alone!” The gift of abundant and eternal life in Christ comes to us entirely by trusting in God. Romans is Paul’s clear explanation of what it means for us to have access to salvation through Christ. His letter, again and again, draws inspiration from the Psalms.

So, in addition to reading Romans this summer, I want to invite you to join me in a practice called Psalms in the Summer. I’ve done this for several years now. The practice is simple. Read one Psalm per day. Most Psalms can be read in five minutes or less. I encourage you to read it slowly. See if a word or phrase captures your heart, your imagination, your attention. Then, share with God why this phrase or word spoke to you. That’s it. If you forget which Psalm you’re “on”, it’s OK. Pick up where you think you left off and continue.

In doing so, you’ll be reading and praying the same words as Paul. As Jesus. And the Holy Spirit has a good track record of using these words to connect people to God.

Praise the LORD!

Pastor Drew

To see a list of Psalm quotations in the New Testament, click here

I’m Sad…

I am sad.  I’m grieving for the people of England who have endured recent terrorist attacks.  And not just England, but the people of Belgium, Germany, France, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, Egypt, and many African countries, who have also suffered attacks.

I’m sad, hurting for the people who, because of senseless acts, have lost people they love.

I’m sad that I can’t do more to stop it.

I’m sad that some people feel killing others will somehow bring them satisfaction, joy, or reward.

God tells us in the fifth commandment that we shall not kill.  Martin Luther takes this commandment even farther in his Small Catechism, saying, “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body].”

I’m sad…until I remember that I have a confirmation interview this afternoon.  We may discuss this commandment, or others.  We’ll talk about the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed.  I’ll get to hear about his faith story.  We’ll talk about doubts and fears, about God and where he sees God at work in others, what he’s learned, what he hopes to learn about God…

This interview will boost my spirits, as they all do.  I’ll be reminded that, while I cannot single-handedly bring peace to all parts of the world, I CAN help share God’s peace with a confirmand, with his family, with people in my community, with people in my church, within my own family, and within my heart.

I’ll promote peace in ways that I can, and trust and pray that God will help bring peace in ways that only He can.

Peace to each of you,

Pastor Tenny

Quillows…Again!

This morning at staff meeting we had a very brief but meaningful blessing of the Quillows.  These are quilts individually made for our graduates that are folded into pillows (hence, Quillows).  This Sunday, June 4th, we will once again wrap them around the shoulders of our high school graduates as we send them along the next step of their journey with our prayers and blessings.

Each of us on staff hugged two or three Quillows and took our turn naming these students by name and saying a prayer on their behalf.  These aren’t faceless names on the back page of a graduation bulletin.  These are kids that we know, we’ve had in class, we’ve gone on retreats together, we’ve eaten in their homes, we’ve watched them grow, we’ve seen them succeed and in some cases, fail.  These are our kids.

Some of the quilts have the colors and symbols of their college.  Some are decorated with their favorite sport or hobby.  Some are a collage of their favorite t-shirts. And others just reflect their personalities with vibrant colors and bold images.  But each one is made uniquely with love.

We send out these grads not only with our prayers but also with the foundation of faith that they have received through years of confirmation and Sunday School classes, worship and retreats, youth groups and small groups.  These are young men and women of faith that have a word to speak to a world that desperately needs hope that only God can provide.

Be strong.  Be faithful.  Be courageous.

When the prophet Jeremiah was sent out at a young age, God said to him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.” 

I only wish that we could have sent Jeremiah out with the mantel of a Quillow, the prayers of this congregation and the knowledge that this God is with him forever.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!  May you go forth, bold in the Lord.

Peace,

Pastor Scott