FROM YOUR PASTOR

      Lutherans are not known for their evangelism. It’s true. In general, Lutherans struggle to share their faith. Historically, we have counted on immigration and growing families. Today, this strategy for church growth does not work. In fact, it does not even work for church maintenance. People are not immigrating to the USA from countries that are predominantly Lutheran and fewer young families are attending church. Our intentional efforts at being the most welcoming church we can possibly be are, quite simply, not enough. It is time that we stop putting all of our energy into being welcoming and rethink what it means to be a follower of Christ. There is not one passage in the Bible in which Jesus says, “Sit comfortably where you are and welcome people who come to you and invite them to conform to your way.” Marketing agencies know this to be true. No matter how strong the brand loyalty is or how popular a product is, companies still invest in marketing. You have to continuously invite people or they will move on to the next thing. Jesus commands us to “Go and tell.” The great commandment instructs us to go out into the world to tell people about Jesus! That sounds simple but is also a daunting task to many. What do you say to someone you do not know? How do you even start the conversation? What about people you do know? That can be even more intimidating. If we are going to follow Jesus, we need to go and tell people about Jesus. Over the next five months I will give you bite sized challenges that will prepare you to invite people to church for Christmas Eve services. You may remember these challenges from several years ago. They were created by Rob Moss, pastor of Lutheran Church of the Master in Lakewood, CO.

    Challenge #1

       Try using the phrase “my church” in a conversation with one person each week. It’s as simple as talking with just one person one time each week during the month. You might say:  “My church is two blocks from Fred Meyer.”  “The pastor at my church has three boys.”  “There is a food bank at my church on Friday mornings.”  That’s it. Use the phrase “my church” in a conversation with one person each week throughout August. There are no rules on who you talk to. Will you accept this challenge with me and use the phrase “my church” in conversations throughout August?

By Pastor Jennifer Beil

ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST GOSPEL READING

      Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

     When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

     Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

     Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

      Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’

      Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has gien you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

      “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”

       Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:24-35

ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST SECOND READING

      As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

     But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

      “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”

     (What does “he ascended ” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to  prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

     Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love we will in all things grow up into him who is the who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:1-16

ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST PSALM

Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens;

     he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.

      Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.

      He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power.

      He rained meat down on them like dust, flying birds like sand on the seashore.

      He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents.

      They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them when they craved.

Psalm 78:23-29

ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST FIRST READING

     In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death!”

     Then the Lord said to Moses, ” I will rain down bread from heaven for you. Then the people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

     Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling'”

      While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.

     The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘ At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God'”

     That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.

Exodus 16:2-4,9-15

TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST GOSPEL READING

     Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his dis ciples. The Jewish Passowver Feast was near.

     When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he sid to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

     Philip answered him, “Eight months’ would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

      Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish , but how far will they go among so many?”

     Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

     When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

      After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

     When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat and were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

John 6:1:-21

TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST SECOND READING

     For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know his love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

     Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST PSALM

      All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you.

     They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,

     so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

     Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.

      The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

     The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.

     You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

     The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.

     The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Psalm 145:10-18

TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST FIRST READING

     A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.

     “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.

      But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.'” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the lord.

2 Kings 4:42-44