Pastor Vicki Beilfuss, presiding.
FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
In June we asked: What is in a name? How do our names inform/form our identity, mission, and ministry here in rural central PA? We began with Holy Trinity, then Shepherd of the Hills. This month we explore “Lutheran Church.”
“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” [Romans 12:4-5]
First we are a church, that is, a community of people, gathered together by the Holy Spirit, and whose essential functions as a body are to: worship God and celebrate the sacraments, proclaim the gospel, declare forgiveness, console those suffering and teach the faith. Each individual, a member of the whole, contributes time, energy, talents, and money, so that this God given work of the church continues.
“Lutheran” indicates that we follow the teachings of Luther and the Lutheran reformers. As Lutherans, the documents that guide us, in order of importance, are: scripture, the creeds (Apostles’ & Nicene) and the Augsburg Confession. Reflecting on the teachings of Jesus and Paul, Lutherans believe that we are saved by God’s good gift of grace, not by our own acts or righteousness. Our good words and acts of caring are an outpouring of response to God’s great love for us.
Our Lutheran heritage informed by the Romans text above (and other texts), teaches that the church is a “priesthood of all believers,” that is, the work and ministry of the church is the daily responsibility of all its members--from the youngest to the oldest, the poorest to the wealthiest. We are called to work together sharing our gifts for the good of the entire community, no one is expected to do it alone. Thanks be to God!
So, what does “Lutheran Church” mean for us as God’s people called and sent into the world? Together we worship God, teach the faith, proclaim the gospel message of God’s love and forgiveness, build up the church and wider community, feed others both physically and spiritually, comfort the suffering, and advocate for justice and peace. Whew, that is a lot to do!
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do all this together, some in big ways and some in small ways. Throughout the next year our councils will work on listening for the Spirit’s guidance as we discern how God is calling us to do ministry in our area. Please pray for our leadership and for our life together.