what do Lutherans believe?
With churches of so many denominations located within just a few miles of Messiah Lutheran Church, many visitors to our church ask us this question.
The Lutheran branch of the Christian family tree began as a reforming movement within the Roman Catholic Church. From those initial efforts at reform, Lutheranism and Protestantism began. 500 years later, Lutheran-Christians continue to gather in congregations around the world. Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church is a congregation of the largest Lutheran denomination in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
We believe that we can best understand God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In Jesus we meet the steadfast, faithful love of God. This is most especially true in the death of Jesus. On the cross, we believe that God took on the violent scapegoating of humankind. In the resurrection of Jesus, God showed us that his undying love triumphs over death and tragedy.
At Messiah, we preach about and pray to a saving God who teaches, heals, and renews life.
At Messiah, we call God Father and Mother. This means that: First, we acknowledge God as the creator of the universe, continually creating, calling into being each moment of each day. Second, we acknowledge that God maintains a parental relationship to creation in which he is committed to our growth and the survival of creation. We believe we are God’s children, brothers and sisters of Christ. Jesus taught us to pray to our Father and to look to God for our daily needs: food, safety, all manner of blessings and the strength to avoid evil. At Messiah, we teach and preach that God blesses us as a good parent provides for the children’s needs, as a Good Shepherd cares for the sheep. We bring our needs and hopes to God in prayer trusting in God’s love.
We believe that we and all God’s children are created good, but sin has separated us from God; sin is our desire to be independent from God, to be our own god. Sin is not so much individual acts of wrongdoing as a fractured relationship between God and his children.
Separated from God, we attempt to save ourselves by our accomplishments or by pleasing God. In our efforts to justify ourselves, we fall short of the mark and deny our need for God and our nature as creatures. We believe that God bridged our separation by becoming a son, Jesus, both God and human, born of a human woman by God’s power. Jesus shared our human limitations and woes, even death on a cross. We believe that for Jesus’ sake God forgives our sin and brings us into a right relationship with God. This right relationship is called righteousness or the state of being justified by God’s grace through faith.
Lutherans consider humans to be both sinners and saints at the same time.
We believe that faith is a gift to us. We are not able to come to faith on our own, but by God’s Holy Spirit our hearts are moved to believe in a loving and saving God and take hold of faith. We believe the Holy Spirit moves in and influences our lives beyond boundaries of time and space. God has promised to pour the Holy Spirit upon us through baptism and in holy communion.
By the water of baptism and the Word, God freely gives his grace and lovingly establishes a new member of the universal church of Christ. At Messiah we baptize infants, children and adults bestowing upon them God’s promise of new life in Christ. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit received in baptism, each will become a believer as the Spirit inspires his or her faith. By the Word, the real flesh and blood Jesus is present for us in the bread and wine of communion. Jesus comes to us bringing God’s forgiveness, nourishing our faith and reestablishing our fellowship with our Lord and each other. These two sacraments-baptism and holy communion-are the visible acts which God has commanded and through them God promises to pour out the Holy Spirit on us. They are not the only means of God’s self-revelation. Indeed, at Messiah we bear witness to the many ways God seeks out the lost, changes lives for the best, and brings goodness despite the hardships of everyday life.
The discovery of a gracious God who seeks those who are lost was the turning point in Martin Luther’s understanding of the Christian faith. For him, the matter was clear: we cannot climb to God, we cannot even meet him halfway. Rather, God comes to us in the person of Jesus. We only need to receive God’s acceptance of us in faith. During the Reformation of the 16th century this became known as the doctrine of “Justification by Grace through Faith,” an affirmation of most Christian churches. Lutherans recognize how easily Christians tend to forget this central affirmation and persist in trying to justify themselves by good works and accomplishments. Lutheranism as a Christian movement strives to keep this affirmation at the center of its faith and practice-that reconciliation with God is wholly God’s act through faith in Christ.
Messiah is a community of faith centered on Christ and following the Lutheran tradition. This community welcomes all who have been restored to God through Christ. We make no claims to perfection; rather, we believe the Church is essential to Christian life and growth. All our members are sinners in need of God’s love and forgiveness. All our members are saints by the power of Christ in their lives. As a community we exist solely to preach and teach the faith of Jesus Christ crucified, to administer the sacraments and to serve the world. We practice open communion, that is, all who believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the bread and wine are welcome at the Lord’s table during our worship services. Christian education is also open to all who seek to know God through the Bible, theology and studies on faith in daily life. Our service is growing and evolving to meet the changing needs of the world around us.
There are three ways in which one can become a member of Messiah Lutheran Church
Affirmation of Baptism
Transfer of Letter
Baptism. An individual becomes a member of this congregation the day the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is administered.
Affirmation of Baptism. Persons already baptized in the Christian faith can affirm their baptismal covenant publicly and be received as members.
Transfer of Letter. Baptized members of other Christian congregations may request that Messiah’s church office send for their transfer of church membership to Messiah.
Classes for instruction in the Christian faith are available. For more information or to receive a form to request membership, please speak with the pastor.