|This past week Our Savior was filled with all kinds of happy noise….singing, laughing, playing… as we hosted our 25th annual Day Camp staffed by the wonderful Luther Springs counselors. That’s always one of the happiest, busiest weeks of the year. Now, for the next two weeks, more fun continues as Camp Rythmo starts today, with more singing and fun activities for kids of all ages. Also, this week Pastor Shelly is at “Bishop’s School”. No, this isn’t a school for her to learn how to be a bishop (although she is already fully qualified for that and would make a great bishop) :-). This is a week long camp at Luther Springs to nurture high school students who show special leadership skills, and is lead and facilitated by the bishop and some pastors, of whom Pastor Shelly is one.This coming weekend at Our Savior our worship will have Global dimensions! Since we will be getting ready to send off Ben Smith, who has grown up here at Our Savior, to spend the next year in the mission field in Madagascar, you will hear music and parts of the liturgy from all around the world: Africa, Germany, France, England, the Caribbean and more. This is all a great reminder of what we heard this past Sunday in our second reading that in Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one. You don’t want to miss yet another great opportunity to worship and be fed. We will also be installing our new council members at the end of worship on Sunday.
As this is all going on here at Our Savior our newly called Pastor, Pastor Mark Bernthal, will be saying goodbye to his congregation, St. Armands Lutheran Church in Sarasota. We pray for him and for that congregation as a new chapter unfolds in both of their lives. Pastor Mark’s first weekend with us will be the weekend of July 16-17, and we look forward to welcoming him to Our Savior.
Finally, this past weekend in my sermon I quoted parts of a letter from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the ELCA. This is a wonderful letter which says who we are and who God calls us to be. Below is the letter in it’s entirety.
Have a blessed week. See you in church, either at 6:30pm Saturday or 9:30am Sunday! Also the first Summer Choir opportunity is this Sunday for all ages! Meet Ryan on the side of the church by the piano at 8:45 a.m. – no robes, no commitment, just plain FUN!
Pastor Jack Diehl +
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.” Genesis 1:27 We are killing ourselves. We believe that all people are created in God’s image. All of humanity bears a family resemblance. Those murdered in Orlando were not abstract “others,” they are us. But somehow, in the mind of a deeply disturbed gunman, the LGBTQ community was severed from our common humanity. This separation led to the death of 49 and the wounding of 54 of us.
We live in an increasingly divided and polarized society. Too often we sort ourselves into like minded groups and sort others out. It is a short distance from division to demonization. Yesterday, we witnessed the tragic consequences of this. There is another way. In Christ God has reconciled the world to God’s self. Jesus lived among us sharing our humanity. Jesus died for us to restore our humanity. God invites us into this reconciling work. This must be our witness as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The perpetrator of this hate crime did not come out of nowhere. He was shaped by our culture of division, which itself has been misshapen by the manipulation of our fears. That is not who we are. St. Paul wrote, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ.” (II Corinthians 5:17-20)
Our work begins now. We need to examine ourselves, individually and as a church, to acknowledge the ways we have divided and have been divided. We must stand with people who have been “othered”. We must speak peace and reconciliation into the cacophony of hatred and division. We must live the truth that all people are created in God’s image. This morning your churchwide staff came together to mourn and to pray. We prayed for those killed in Orlando and remembered the Charleston Nine killed only a year ago. We prayed for the family of the shooter, for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and for our Muslim brothers and sisters who now face the threat of retaliation. And we prayed that the Prince of Peace will bring us to the day when we stop killing ourselves.
Your sister in Christ,
Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America