May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 15:5-6
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Acknowledging the differences that existed among the members of the early church, Paul sought to unify the followers of Jesus in letters to the Romans and Corinthians. His main point throughout his letters was that love, God's unending love for us, and our commission by Christ to love God and our neighbors, was to be the focus of Christian living and expression of faith. In doing so, God would be worshipped and glorified with one resounding voice echoing from all the corners of the world. Since joining you as your pastor in September of last year, I have heard his voice of worship and praise proclaimed loudly through the members of American Lutheran Church.
Our Mission Statements reads: "We are the people who worship Jesus Christ, reaching out to teach and share his love for all people." This is an incredibly powerful statement that guides the ministry of our congregation! As we enter 2018 as a community faith. I have been thinking about our four and a half months together and how our Mission Statement encourages and challenges us in our ministry.
We are the people…
God has called and claimed each of us by name through the waters of baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are the people who constitute this community of faith. We are the people who encounter Christ through scripture and the sacraments in this building for the sake of growing God's kingdom beyond our walls. We are God's people who live, work, play, and worship in the La Porte City community along with fellow sisters and brothers in the Christian faith. God actively works with us, and through us, and among us to deepen our faith and embolden us to share our gifts with others.
…who worship Jesus Christ…
We trust in Christ's promise that "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there also." As we gather to worship, Christ is truly present with us, joining with us in prayer, and song, and praise to God. No other name, or kingdom, or power shall be worshipped among God's people. As a community, we support one another in our understanding and expression of faith.
…reaching out to teach and share his love…
The ELCA's motto, "God's work, our hands" reminds us that God is active in the world in many ways, including through our compassion and outreach to others. We are committed to teaching and sharing the love of Christ as one voice spoken by many members together.
…for all the people.
The gifts of God's love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and salvation are gifts for all. And yet many people still do not know or understand the depth of God's love for each of us. We are people who recognize that each person has their own gifts, perspectives, and faults, but also that the one true love of God shines far brighter than the differences that might attempt to divide us. Strengthened and encouraged by God's love for us, we are called to share that same love with all people.
Our Mission Statement calls us to actively follow Christ as his disciples, to worship and praise God together with one voice through many members, and to share God's love with all. In 2018, let us work together to continue the vibrant ministry entrusted to us at American Lutheran in meaningful ways. I look forward to my first full year serving as your pastor and the joys and challenges we will experience together. I am honored, humbled, and blessed to serve in this ministry with you. 2017 was certainly a year of transition for American Lutheran, and I thank you for your discernment, patience, and prayers throughout the call process. I am confident that God was active in leading Emily and me to join you in ministry. Thanks be to God!
Pastor Nathan Clements