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Re-imagining our congregational vision

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In three years from now, what will Clairemont Lutheran Church be known for?

Hopefully we will still be a beacon of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a
community of faith in this part of the City of San Diego. But what exactly does that mean? We all may have different answers to these and other questions when we take the time to think about the vision for our congregation.

For some, it may be the tried and true Classic Worship on Sunday
mornings: this is the place where you can experience the ancient ritual of the Christian faith combined with a modern, contextual take on the scripture, along with a choir and great organ music. Maybe it’s life groups and other ministries which cater more to the elderly among us, perhaps adding to our staff a visitation minister and a parish nurse. Maybe the focus is to be the best
grandparents and retirees church in the city.

Or perhaps our desire to see more children and youth in the church will blossom into programs fostering family involvement in the life of the congregation. Maybe this includes alternative forms of worship with different styles of music and different musicians. Maybe this type of worship happens on a Saturday or
Sunday evening instead of Sunday morning. Perhaps the goal is to be the best Sunday School and Youth program in our area.

Could Clairemont Lutheran Church be the community of faith for the working adult, the busy family, or the college student?

This congregation is blessed with a rich history of faith and community outreach. We were blessed by founders who gave us a landmark church campus, and now it’s time for us to continuing building physically and spiritually for the next generation of those who will call Clairemont Lutheran Church their community of faith. Perhaps it’s time to step out in faith and volunteer more and increase our giving.

These are just some of the things we as a congregation could consider when we are thinking about the vision of our faith
community. A simple plan of maintaining what we’ve done in the past may not be the best guidance for the future. Rather, we should look deep into our hearts and ask what we want our
congregation to mean to us and those in the Clairemont community this year, next year, and the next several years after that. What legacy do we want our congregation to have?

But first, we must recognize what God is calling us to do. Then we must prayerfully decide how we, individually and collectively,
will respond to God’s call.

in Faith

Sewing the seeds of our faith

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Sometimes parables are hard to understand. We want them to tell us to do something, but we know that we cannot earn our
relationship with God. It’s not about being able to find that one
sheep or have enough oil in our lamp or to make sure our soil
samples have been tested to have the proper nutrients for a
bumper crop.

In the parable of the outrageous sower Jesus gives some answers
for his story teaching. He tells us this is so we can understand.
Many of us have heard this before and we can jump to some
obvious conclusions. We might need to hear again, and learn
something new that we don’t already know.

Soil, like human beings, is shaped by its environment. So, if
soil is walked on over and over again, beaten down so that t becomes packed hard, it is no longer fit for the planting of seeds.
We see this in the human community, too. People who have
been walked on over, and over, and over again often develop a
hardened exterior to protect themselves.

We take good care of our lives. We set about cultivating good soil, we are not without hope. It is true that seeds landing on hard or rocky ground stands less of a chance of gaining root and thriving, but it does, sometimes, happen. There are remarkable pictures of trees growing out of rocks and flowers that push up through the pavement. These tenacious plants offer signs that the Word of the kingdom will continue to find a way to grow even on the days when we feel beaten down, overcome by thorns, or at our rockiest.

This parable is not only about the soil types, but let’s also spend a moment thinking about this farmer. In this case it is the one
who throws his seed, even into wasteful places. Lucky for us we have a God who is reckless with the way He scatters the seed.
This is the message of a street preacher who keeps standing on his soapbox every day. People seem to just keep passing by.
No one really listens to the rants. Or do they? It might not be the way we are comfortable about hearing the Word but that does not make it something other than the Word. Keep sowing. Don’t give up. 

One more thing about parables and what Jesus was really up to. Jesus did not just tell stories he observed in real life and watched real people. Jesus used these stories to tell us about everyday stuff. To get inside people’s heads and to see the kingdom was not found only in a synagogue or a temple but in daily life and in their very lives.

Jesus knew that the farmers in the crowd would wonder about this crazy method of planting. It does not make sense to real
farmers, but it got their attention. It showed them that Jesus knew something that no Rabbi would ever teach. The people were more familiar with hard, rocky soil than pristine words in the Temple.

The Kingdom of God is found in the farmer’s field and the Holy Temple. The household of faith is about the flower garden, the planted field, the rocky path and good soil. 

Our good work is to spend the time to till our own faith. To grow in faith, depend more fully on eternal hope and share the forgiving love that has made each of us whole. There is no need to be in the business of judging the fertility of anyone else’s soil.

In the household of faith, I recognize that some days God’s word bounces off my back. It’s as if I failed to recognize it even existed. On other days it can land in my hands and I hold on to it, at least until I wash my hands again. Then again sometimes it lands in my heart and grows deep into my soul. 

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