Love Everyone, always
June 24, 2021 (Time in Pandemic: 1 Year, 3 Months, 2 Week, 1 Day)
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Grace and Peace to you!
Slowly but surely, we’re making progress in our bid to recapture life at ILC. It will take some time, but it’s coming. We enjoyed a wonderful in person service last Sunday and happily anticipate seeing more and more of you with us. It is good to be among friends once again, and we want you to know that everyone, that is, all people; every single one of you; are welcome in this place!
That said, we remain vigilant about the COVID-19 virus. Reports just this morning indicate that in the US, although infection rates are now less than one tenth what they were at the height of the pandemic, there is a concerning rise in the prevalence of the Delta variant, which now represents 20% of current infections. This variant is apparently more contagious, and somewhat harder to treat. The vaccines are demonstrably highly effective and represent one of the greatest scientific achievements in modern history. Despite the harmful conspiracy theories that continue to persist among the most cynical, please, do your part to protect yourselves, your families, your neighbors, and indeed, all of us: if you haven’t already done so: Get Vaccinated!
Today, I want to spend a little more time fleshing out the notion of the Anchor Church movement; what it is, what it isn’t, how it works, and what it will mean to us.
First, let me share this scripture from the gospel of Luke, chapter 10, with you:
25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” (MSG)
Our congregation has been remarkably blessed over the years, and most especially during the course of the pandemic. And by that I don’t mean what we’ve received or been given, but rather, what we’ve been able to share in the world. And those opportunities continue to be right in front of us.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is an important story that speaks to each of us with respect to how we choose to serve. It should be understood that the Levite and the priest referred to in the parable, were never understood to be bad or selfish people. They were faithful and upstanding members of their community, who were intent on living according to the precepts of their tradition. So in conformity to that tradition, they knew exceedingly well that they must remain ritually pure in order to be able to participate in the prescribed rites and sacrifices. If they ever became “ritually unclean” they would be subjected to a rather long, drawn out process to regain ritual purity. So when they passed by on the other side of the road, they were intent on remaining ritually pure or clean by avoiding blood, sickness and possibly death. They just couldn’t help out and very likely assumed (hoped) that someone else would come by and take care of things. Now the person from Samaria who did subsequently pass by, has been called the “good” samaritan. That language is commonplace to us, but in that context, it would have seemed an oxymoron. From the Jewish perspective of the day, there could be no such thing as a “good” Samaritan. They were viewed very negatively by everyone. However, this person behaved as Jesus wants us to behave. To see someone in need, and not walk by. To serve where need arises, and we have the capacity to serve. We serve because we should, and we serve because we can! God is good!!
The Anchor Church movement in the ELCA is a new paradigm in the church that seeks to encourage congregations that are vital and have been blessed (like us), to reach out to other congregations that are struggling and at risk of closure. The pandemic has exacerbated an already complicated situation in the churches of the ELCA and beyond. A number of congregations can no longer survive and are needing to find new ways to go on. The Anchor Church movement provides such a way. The anchoring church provides a stable anchor for the community its serving. The vision and mission of the staff and community of that congregation provide inspiration and a helping hand for the community in need. The idea is to help (granted, slowly and methodically) provide a renewed vitality for the community in need. This model has shown very positive signs of success in the congregations where it is currently being implemented across the ELCA.
The Anchor Church movement is organized in several cohorts, and I have been in a part of that conversation with the leader, Rev. Dr. Douglas Hill, from Abiding Hope Lutheran Church in Littleton, CO. We meet regularly to discuss progress and challenges, and to share ideas that seek to resolve commonly experiences problems. Pr. Doug is author of a formative book, entitled Cultural Architecture
Our Pacifica Synod is very anxious to have us participate in this ministry. (Bishop Andy has already formally signed on behalf of the synod). The synod sees this strategy as one that may be increasingly important in our synod, as housing costs mount through the roof, and as the clergy shortage across the ELCA, begins to deleteriously impact our communities.
Shepherd of Life Lutheran Church in Lake Elsinore is a community that is struggling to survive. One might even go so far as to say that their days may be numbered if this project doesn’t work. They have struggled for a very long time to keep the doors open, and haven’t found a clergy person willing to service quarter time or half time, just to keep them going. It is to this community that God is calling us, the members of Incarnation Lutheran Church.
Naturally, a couple of questions arise. What can we expect to contribute, and what is the benefit to ILC, if anything?
It is my hope that the laity here at ILC will rise up in numbers to serve our brothers and sisters in that place. I am already aware that our quilters have been discussing how they might link up with the quilters in that congregation. Beyond that, Darrell Datte is seeking help from some folks to work on some landscaping work that needs to be done up there. I know there will be more we can do together as time passes. From the perspective of staff, whoever is preaching would travel to Lake Elsinore to lead worship that Sunday, and participate in any important meetings or studies after worship that are needful. We’d be back in Poway for a proposed evening service, potentially beginning in late August. Beyond that, staff would be available to them one day per week, again for meetings, Bible Studies, visitation, and any appropriate evangelization with which we can help.
Shepherd of Life’s contribution to us is in the first instance a financial one. This is important, but SoLLC’s greatest gift to ILC is an opportunity to serve and to share in the mission Christ gives us all. It’s financial contribution is $24,000 per annum. The Pacifica Synod is excited by and committed to this process. In addition to oversight and help when requested, the Pacifica Synod is covenanted with SoLLC to provide an additional $16,000 per annum of mission support funds for ILC’s ministry to them. In other words, a total financial contribution to ILC of $40,000.
It is extremely important to note that this ministry is an ILC ministry, not a Pr. Luther ministry. We are truly in this together. More importantly, this ministry is most certainly going to be a blessing to us! We’ll be helping out to be sure, but we are blessed in the serving!
As we gather and grow stronger, please remember to celebrate how richly God has blessed you, and commit yourself to be a blessing to everyone around you!
Peace and grace,
From our Church Council President, Dr. Brent Brown COVID19 Precautions last updated 6/18/21
· Please, if able, get vaccinated. · We will continue to have one weekly worship service, Sunday mornings at 8:30. · Worship returns to FULL CAPACITY, with no weekly online sign-up. · Sunday’s worship service will occur on campus and will be simultaneously live-streamed online on YouTube and our website. The replay/recording will be available online immediately following worship to view at your leisure. · Livestreamed services will continue with the same degree of excellence for the foreseeable future. · Masks are no longer required for vaccinated persons age 12 and above. · Social distancing is no longer required. · Small groups will be allowed on campus with the approval of council and ministry staff.
The Experience We are gradually returning to normal. · If you have experienced any COVID19 symptoms in the last 10 days or have had recent contact with an ill person with COVID19, especially if unvaccinated, please stay home. · Hand sanitization will be available at every entry point. · Deep cleaning will be done every Sunday. · Vaccinated worship leaders and congregants can sing and speak without wearing masks. · Pre-wrapped communion elements will be placed on a table in the narthex. · Children under 12 are permitted at the service if they wear a face covering at discretion of adult supervision. Children under 2 are exempt from above rules, and can attend at discretion of parents. · Giving will continue online through our website or through the mail. There will be a box near the entrance to the sanctuary to drop in offering. Offering plates will not be passed during the service.
James 1:2-3: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
LINK is BACK
LINK (6th-12th grades) will meet on Sundays June 13 & 27 and July 18 & 25 from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. We have service projects, games, fellowship, and fun planned for you all. Meet in the courtyard. Bring a jacket. Wear a mask. And be ready for a fun time!
ILC Youth Golf Tournament Our first fundraiser for the ELCA youth gathering is a golf tournament on August 8th. Get your neighbors, relatives, and friends to participate for a day of fun in the fairways. Let me know if you'd like to help that day.
Hygiene Supplies Needed! Interfaith is low on hygiene supplies, shampoo, deodorant, bar soap. There is also a need for new or gently used blankets. Thank you for your consistent generosity!
Food Drop off for Interfaith Community Services Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday between 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning, volunteers are in the parking lot to move groceries and take all the donations to ICS.