Come Worship Together Live & In-person both Saturdays and Sundays!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on both Saturday, May 1 at 5:30 pm and Sunday, May 2 at 10:00 am, which will also be online via Facebook Livestream!
Please click the “Read More” button below to get all the details, which will help ensure all who wish to worship together in person stay as safe as possible.
Join your prayers with the community! During the live stream of the service, you are invited to type into the Facebook chat any prayer requests for those you want included in the prayers of intercession. (As always, you may also send your prayer requests by Wednesday the week ahead to email@example.com.) Please do this at the beginning of the service so that we can write them up and hand them to the pastors before the prayers start.
Saturday 5:30 pm Contemporary Service
Sunday 10:00 am Traditional Service
Readings and Psalms:
1 John 4:7-21
Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B
Growing Young by Connecting to Jesus AND Each Other
Sermon for the 5th Sunday of Easter, Year B. May 2, 2021
Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7:21; John 15:1-8
Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Warrenton, VA. The Reverend Terri Luper Church.
“Here it is not all about being perfect,” says the grateful parent. “We know our teenagers are going to screw up. How is our family going to be treated when they do? We want our kids to be in a place where God’s people say, ‘Okay, you messed up. What now?’”
I’m with that parent! Here’s a story about that parent’s church from a book called Growing Young. It shows an amazing example of living out Jesus’ call to love, forgive, and connect, even when it’s hard.
The pastor did not know why the Jacobsen family asked to see him—not until he saw the faces of both parents, their teenaged daughter, and her boyfriend. Their downturned eyes and somber faces let him know it was something big. Well, not literally, at least not yet.
Janeen was pregnant. That was not the plan. They had messed up. What now? Adoption? Reluctant marriage? Move away?
(The story easily could go a really bad way right now, couldn’t it?)
After talking as a group, and then as a couple, over time, reflecting on options, desires, worries, and a lot of prayer, the young couple realized they wanted—needed—to take a great risk: they decided to trust the whole congregation with their story and let God help them.
And the church loved on that couple! Baby shower, wedding reception, small groups, prayers, and, well, plenty of the kind of grace you only get through Jesus and being connected to him.
That grace extended to the baby boy who arrived a few months later. It also extended to others who felt safe enough to share their own secret pain and brokenness because of the way ministry leaders had loved these young people.
Members of that church told this story as a marker of who they are: a church connected to Jesus and his message of love. Being connected to Jesus allowed this church to show love to some teenagers—and their very-active parents—who all needed it so much. And that judgment-free love not only kept them connected to the church but also helped the church grow and thrive. The community was excited to share how Jesus turned a story that could have been about a family cast out into one about a family drawn close.
“People were just filled with gratitude to be part of such a community of grace.”
My friends, could we be that congregation? I believe we can.
Growing Young: 6 essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church is a book I’m reading to help us prepare for our renaissance-rebirth-return this coming Fall. You may have already heard, read, or simply guessed that, as a whole congregation, we must look carefully at ourselves, our mission, and our ministries as we return. This Covid Thing is not a blessing, but we know that in God’s economy, nothing is wasted. As the Bible says, “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Jesus can use all the yuck of this world to bring about good. It was true for Janeen, Edgar, and their baby boy, and it can be true for a church hurt by illness, pain, arguments, missteps, and loss.
We can Grow Young. How? By following Jesus and helping others to connect with him and with us; by learning to be with Jesus instead of just doing for Jesus.
Our lessons this week draw us into this possible future. The story of the man from Ethiopia points us outward. He was wealthy and privileged in one part of his life, but as a eunuch he was outcast from practicing his faith in another. God’s work is clear and intentional, drawing him—and us readers—in. After worshipping from a distance in Jerusalem, this master of the royal treasury seeks God from his carriage. As he reads a section of Isaiah from a scroll, Philip runs up to his carriage and listens, asks questions, and invites. “Who is this passage about?” the Ethiopian asks, and Philip shows him Jesus.
And here is where the story of this man connects to the young people in that church. In his next question you can tell he has started to hope, to believe he could trust God to include him and connect with him, despite his failings. The big question: is this invitation to join the Jesus Way for him?
In a heartbreaking moment of anxiety, the excluded man says, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?”
The Ethiopian was used to being listened to. His work in the financial sector and place of power brought him status. However, he was also familiar with being excluded because of his physical form. He was an outsider looking in; he was longing to belong. And God wanted him to belong, to abide in Jesus, forever. So, Philip connected him to the Vine. “What is to prevent you from being baptized? Not a thing. Let’s go!”
The Holy Spirit and God’s angels changed his story from one cast out to one fully included. Hallelujah! God is at work, changing the world! Also, the Holy Spirit ensured we could see this story by putting it in our scriptures. The man longed to belong, so Philip and the Spirit connected him to Jesus and the community.
Jesus is the vine from whom we receive life and love, to whom we belong. I am the vine, and y’all are the branches, he said. (Well, okay, he didn’t use y’all in this translation, much to the dismay of us Southern and Southwestern folks who would have, but he meant it! Every time you see the word “you” in this passage, it is plural.) Jesus wanted his followers to stay connected to him, and he wanted them—us—to stay connected to each other. And, as you read in other words of Jesus and the Bible, we are called to welcome others to connect with us—others who disagree with us, or don’t do things the way we are used to, or break the rules, or even those who do seem to be just like us—we are called to bring them all to Jesus, and let God help graft them in among us.
Friends, there are people all around us who long to belong somewhere. There are 20 somethings who don’t feel they fit in here (anyone my age here?), and high schoolers who feel judged for any number of reasons (sports on Sunday?!! Oh my!), and middle schoolers who just want someone to see them, hear them, and care about them. Could we let God help us help them? Could we study, and work, and learn, and listen, and change whatever habits get in the way? Yes, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can.
Let’s become known as a church that not only builds great programs for children and youth and young adults, but also abides with them across generations and families, listens to them, and learns from them just as much as we teach them. We have the potential to be the church that everyone knows welcomes youth and young adults no matter how righteous or weird or fraudulent or fabulous. We are already a church that loves them, but we could also be one where they lead us in ways we couldn’t imagine before. And the good news? We’re mostly there already!
We can be that kind of church. If you are intrigued about this concept, or the book I’m reading, or perhaps just want to know God is working in our rebirth process—especially if you are a teenager or twenty-something, we invite you to connect with our vineyard. Don’t let anything prevent you! Join me as we study this book—or one about online connections, worship, community service—wherever your heart calls. Reach out to your council leaders to learn more. Pull out your debit cards to invest in this growth. Get on your knees (metaphorically if you like!) and pray. We are not alone; we have each other, and together, we abide in the Vine who will guide us where we need to grow, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 Growing Young: 6 essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church Pp 126-128
 Romans 8:28
Welcome to Nurturing Faith from Roots & Wings, a ministry of the Virginia Synod, ELCA. Each insert contains a small lesson from one of the Bible passages, a Bible memory verse to use for the month, a Table Prayer to include during meal time, and some ideas for conversations or activities. These have been specifically chosen with children in mind in terms of themes and length.
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