At the Heart of Our Faith
First and foremost, at the heart and center of our convictions, is this:
The Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is gracious, merciful, forgiving, and overflowing with unconditional love – and longs to share that love generously with humans and all creation. (Sometimes we call this “grace”.) God’s love is poured out most fully and completely in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and granted to us, freely, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Sometimes we call this “grace”, too.) God’s love is given freely to broken and sinful people who don’t have to “measure up” to some standard, or meet some requirement, or have a special spiritual experience, in order to be acceptable to God. God simply declares us acceptable – not by our deserving, but through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. (Sometimes we call this “salvation”.)
In other words, our life with God is a GIFT – a gift to be received and lived with faith, gratitude, and joy!
We believe that this faith is truly declared in the three historic Creeds of the Church – the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.
The Word of God
We hear of this gift through the Word. As Christians in the Lutheran tradition, we believe the Word of God has a three-fold expression:
- Jesus Christ, God-in-the-flesh, is the living and eternal Word of God.
- The Bible is God’s inspired, written Word, and the clearest testimony to God available to us.
- The Word of God comes to us through the proclamation of preachers, teachers, and all Christian people as we speak our faith in formal and informal settings, in public worship and teaching, and in personal conversations.
In keeping with Lutheran traditions we acknowledge, revere, and practice two Sacraments in our worship life.
1. Holy Baptism
Baptism is the sacrament of entrance into life with Christ in the community of the church. Because it is an entrance into the community, baptism takes place in the presence of the assembled people, during worship. We recognize as valid the baptism of anyone, from any Christian tradition, who has been baptized in the name of the Triune God.
Baptism is offered to anyone not previously baptized, of any age, who desires to grow in Christ together with God’s people. Consultation with a pastor is expected before Baptism.
2. Holy Communion
We believe that Holy Communion is a gift from God where Jesus Christ is truly present in the bread and wine as the Church gathers around the Lord’s Table.
All are welcome at the Lord’s Table.
The age of those who are invited to participate in communion falls at the discretion of the families/parents in consultation with the pastor(s) along with age appropriate education for the participants.
We celebrate Holy Communion at all weekend worship services and on festivals.
The Bible (the Old and New Testaments) is God’s inspired Word. The Holy Spirit moved human authors to write these documents through which God is revealed. The Bible is the source and standard for guiding the church’s proclamation, faith, and life. We treasure and study the Bible. We read from it and base our preaching and teaching in it. Much of our worship liturgy is from the Bible. We treasure the Bible, but we do not worship it. We worship the Triune God who is revealed there.
It is in and through the Church that we live out God’s gift of life in Christ with faith, gratitude, and joy. The Church is not a collection of perfect people. We are broken, and fully aware of our sinfulness. We gather to hear God’s Word and receive the Sacraments as people who need forgiveness, renewal, and the strength to follow Christ in our daily lives. The Church exists to witness to the grace and power of God and the life-giving activity of God in the world, the church, and the lives of believers. At Holy shepherd, we express that purpose in this mission statement:
Worshiping and Growing Together in Christ, Serving and Reaching Out Joyfully to All!
All of God’s people are ministers. A few ministers are pastors, deacons, and professional church workers. We all have gifts from God, spiritual gifts, that are intended to be discovered, developed, and deployed in witness to God’s reign of mercy. These gifts are meant to be used in the church – and in our daily lives at home, school, volunteer service, work, and play.
The church is not just a local congregation, but all of God’s people throughout the world. Out of this conviction, we join together with almost 11,000 this number is now lower, but I don’t know a more accurate figure other Lutheran congregations in the U.S and Caribbean as part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The ELCA is organized into 65 regional clusters called “synods” (which means “walking together”), each led by a bishop. Holy Shepherd is part of the Rocky Mountain Synod, with offices in Denver, led by Bishop Jim Gonia. Through the ELCA, we are connected to other Christian traditions, both nationally and globally, and join together in worship, study, and service to God’s world.
What Does It Mean to be “Lutheran”?
- A Lutheran is, first of all, a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ.
- A Lutheran affirms the faith outlined above.
- A Lutheran lives her/his faith in the company of God’s people – in a Lutheran faith community (church).
- A Lutheran lives in the tradition begun by Martin Luther (1483-1546) in Germany – one of the leaders of the 16th Century movement called “The Reformation”.
- A Lutheran is one whose faith and life are guided by Scripture and explained in the founding documents of Lutheranism. These are called The Lutheran Confessions. The best-known of these are Luther’s “Small Catechism” and “The Augsburg Confession”.
- A Lutheran knows that “together we proclaim and embody God’s unconditional love for the sake of the world.“ Mission statement of the Rocky Mountain Synod)
We invite you to visit the website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) www.elca.org for further information.