For Luther, it is the great exchange, the sweet swap.
At the place of the cross
God has taken away the sins of the world
and has dropped them down the dark hole of Jesus’ death.
On the cross, God has shut up forever on the subject of guilt:
“There is now therefore no condemnation….”
At the cross
God replaces our sin with righteousness;
and, for us
in the place of dying,
gives Christ’s life and joy and peace.
A Word from the Pastor:
Sometimes we are compelled to share a story, even though we know we cannot fully capture the experience. No matter how you tell it, no matter how far back you pull your camera’s wideangled lens, you know that you will never be able to capture the experience in any re-created form. Still, you feel compelled to tell the story.
This story begins with you, people of Zion Lutheran, who embrace our mission to be a community “connecting through grace.” It continues with Pamela Atkinson. She has recruited local clergy to grace her homeless friends with morning devotions. Early on a beautiful summer morning, it is my turn to lead, standing before our homeless friends while representing you in proclaiming grace.
Something is different about this morning. Usually six to a dozen plus people attend. But on this morning, 25 people fill our little room in the Weigand Homeless Resource Center. Should I mention that there is enough space for about ---- 25 people? Even before the room fills up, Reggie and Dar take seats directly in front of me. I promise that they are going to be sermon examples, because nobody in my congregation sits in the front row unless all the other pews are filled. “We wanted to be close,” Dar says. “We need to hear the Word.”
The Word is from Jesus: “…..but, you are my friends” (John 15:15b).
The message starts with this little word –“but.” It is a word that cancels and negates everything that goes before it. We give more weight to what happens after you hear the word, ‘but.’
Your world may feel overwhelming, but you are my friends.
You may be homeless, but you are my friend.
You may have failed, but you are my friend.
We are all a little bit taken aback, wondering how the Creator of the universe can come to us in Jesus, claiming us as friends. It is time for prayer. “How may I pray for you? How can we pray for one another?”
Madam Tony wants healing with her broken rib. Linda asks for mercy, that her criminal record not count against her application for section 8 housing. Kevin asks if it is okay to pray about “the attitude I have coming on.” Several seek forgiveness. Kathy wants God’s peace to fill the separation between her and family. Lance requests prayers of gratitude. Jim prays for the gift of acceptance, to live in humility and to walk in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord. Arnie asks that we pray for the guy who stole his phone and meal card. And we are all silent. It is going to take a powerful prayer of grace to ask forgiveness for our enemies.
The service is ended. I receive several hugs. Jim kneels before me, asking for a blessing. Madam Tony offers me her last (already used) tissue. She had noticed a tear coming from my eye. As Justin, the security guard escorts me to the parking lot, he offers this observation: “That was really something different ---- the way we were all connected.”
Yes. I could have opened my Bible and showed how we were inside 2 Corinthians 4:15: “…..grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
Connecting through grace, from 1070 Foothill Blvd. to 437 West on 200 South.
-- Pastor Steve Klemz
A Word from the Pastor:
We knew our church needed a building addition. In 1998 one Sunday School classroom actually used part of a closet. The church and pastor’s office were closeted together in the today’s library. There was no place for post worship fellowship and refreshments. On the first Sunday of the month we did gather for “high coffee” in the Terrace Room. But, without an elevator, differently abled people were unable to attend. Our main entrance was barely visible, with partially hidden side entrances on the north and south.
We presented a plan. We would construct additional offices and fellowship space; install an elevator. Total cost? $660,000. We thought we were good to go. But the plan failed, miserably. We were only able to garner $250,000 in pledges. What happened?
We settled for what we needed, rather than prayerfully exploring God’s vision for our mission and ministry. We claimed the same scripture used in today’s welcoming statement: “In Christ, a New Creation.” We dreamed dreams. How could our new building addition accommodate the specs for a preschool? When we explored how this could be a hospitable space, we included showers and laundry space in our plans. We wanted to be bold, proclaiming welcome with a large entrance space facing the east. Total cost? $1,500,000. But we were caught up in God’s vision. We responded generously and sacrificially pledged our support.
Here we are, twenty years later. Every Sunday we pray for the care of God’s good creation, even as our R-1 insulation contributes to a larger carbon footprint. Furthermore, our campus has safety issues. I am confident that we can meet our financial challenge. We are good at supporting building improvements. But, can we be as good at building ministry? Rather than settling for what we need, I hope that we can explore what it means to be caught up in God’s vision for Zion, being a people “connecting through grace.” It’s time to dream dreams. How can we grow in hospitality? How do we more fully engage in the grace of stewardship?
Thank you for praying and responding to ways that you can participate.
In and through Christ,
Pastor Steve Klemz
CONNECTING THROUGH GRACE
We are a Reconciling in Christ community. All are welcome!
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rocky Mountain Synod
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
SUMMER WORSHIP SCHEDULE
10:00am worship service
(Our fuller Sunday schedule will resume after Labor Day.)