Category Archives: News

Our Saviors Lutheran Church of Virginia, Minnesota News

holy week

We invite you to Easter Worship at 8am and 9:30am

There is a place for you here this Easter! All are welcome as we gather to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord! Each service (Sunday, April 16th at 8am and 9:30am) will offer communion and feature special music from the OSLC Choir and Easter Band. You are also invited to join us for a Easter Pancake Breakfast from 8:30-9:30am, a fundraiser for Youth and Family Ministry.

“He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

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Pr. Paul – How much hope?

20161224_155628..and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

It might seem a strange question to ask, how much hope, but it’s an honest one that I’m posing to you. I’m asking this considering fears around amounts of money (we ended the year in the black! Let’s celebrate!), numbers of people in the pews (those numbers seem to be on the rise!), and kids who come up front for our excellent children’s sermons (did you see the dozen kids who came up on New Year’s Day for the children’s sermon? It was amazing!). I’m asking because I think it’s easy for any congregation to lose hope for any variety of reasons. I’m asking because there are all sorts of reason for us to have hope.

Did you hear that? There’s all sorts of reason for us to have hope.

Or, rather: There’s all sorts of ways in which hope has ahold of us!

Since hope stems from God’s love for us – for us! – then hope abounds in our life together. This is where Paul is driving us, to see the horizon of hope that sprawls out before us. A new horizon is both scary and exhilarating, both grief  producing and liberating, both unfamiliar and yet, somehow, also familiar. Whatever the horizon shows us, the ground underneath us, God’s love, unites us and provides a steadiness upon which to rest as we consider the view before us.

When Paul writes, hope does not disappoint us, he is not suggesting that hope somehow makes us immune to trials and temptations. Of anyone, Paul is sure to know something about hope deferred, about brokenness and failure. Not only on the Damascus Road, but in other experiences in his life—even life after the encounter with Christ on the road—does Paul have familiarity with the struggles associated with hope. Though Paul thought that Christ would come back in his lifetime (he was banking on it, in fact), he continued, day by day, to do the work of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in the face of a world hostile to that kind of news. He was beaten and imprisoned, and eventually, killed for the work he was called to be about. Though he struggled, he did not lose hope.

We are called into hope, and, to be honest, hope is hard work. For so many reasons, people can easily throw their hands up in the air in frustration and want to walk away. This is not a hopeful stance; in the face of such things, the community is called to lean into the hope we have in Jesus Christ. When someone walks away from hope, the community is to reach out in hope. If those to whom we reach out do not rest in hope, we are called to reach out to them again and again and again and again.

And what of the hope that has a hold of us? What do we do with it? We share it with others, and, boldly, we share with others the reason for our hope. And when we are unclear about why and how hope is present, remember this: We are children of God, each named and claimed through the waters of baptism, each called and sent to share the love and hope of Christ with the world. We have something of real worth to share with the world. We have hope. Those three words are radical to a world that has lost all hope.

Together, by God’s grace, let’s not only lean into hope but also share it with others.

In Christ’s Love and Grace, Pastor Paul Lutter

 

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Love, Revealed

20161224_155628Her name was Laura. She was in her 80s and I was 15 when we met. I remember how her voice trembled when she spoke, how the world opened at the warmth of her smile, how her eyes shone wisdom even when there seemed to be no answers for what was going on in my young life. Her laughter dispelled things like sadness and darkness. And, to be honest, she was incredibly bashful when compliments like the words I’m writing would come her way – and they would come, often, from more people than just me. For years on end, she taught elementary school; those who had her as a teacher would excitedly tell about Ms. Koskela’s antics as their teacher.

I was not lucky enough to have her as a teacher. We met because, one Sunday before worship, she sat down next to me in the pew. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer. When worship began, her frail voice and strong heart joined together to confess her sins, to give thanks to God for the gift of forgiveness, for the Word read and preached, and to take the notes on the pages and render them sung joyfully, with gusto, to a God who she had known her entire life.

She never harangued me into coming to Church; she revealed God’s love to me by the way she worshiped, the way she got to know me over the remaining years of high school, by the way she told me she prayed for me every day, through her laughter and her listening and her telling me stories about her life. She never married, but she knew a love so deep and wide in Christ Jesus that she shared it with the world around her, with great generosity and hope. She wasn’t perfect; faithfulness, not perfection, was the rhythm of her life. If anyone accused her of being imperfect, she would smile and say, “Oh, you don’t know the half of it!” More than her stunning imperfection, she knew the grace of God, which, as Paul the apostle proclaims, is “sufficient,” so much so that it is made perfect especially through our weakness. For this reason, Paul writes, “whenever [we are] weak, then [we are] strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

I wanted to tell you about Laura because, amid the craziness of life, we don’t always recognize in the moment who has been formative for us in our faith (or in any other way, for that matter). In the moment, I had no idea that Laura had the kind of influence on me that she obviously had. And I certainly had no idea as I was getting to know Laura that God was using her to reveal God’s love for me in Jesus Christ. I had no idea how God was working through her to teach me something about the healing that comes from confessing sin and hearing words of forgiveness that unleash us, springing us back to life. I had no idea how kneeling next to Laura at the Lord’s table, receiving bread and wine with her, would teach me the truth about what Luther says when he writes, Where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and salvation. I had no idea at the time how praying next to Laura would pique my interest in love and care for neighbors I would never meet and whose language I do not speak, yet whose flourishing I care deeply about. I had no idea how conversation with Laura would broaden my imagination for the ways that God’s love, grace, and mercy are on the loose in the world. I had no idea; God, however, does.

You, dear brothers and sisters, are a community who has already revealed God’s love to me in ways large and small. How God will use us to reveal God’s love to one another and the world around us is yet to unfold. The good news, though, is that God’s love has ahold of us. And because of this, we have hope!

Pastor Paul Lutter