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I popped in to Amazing Grace Lutheran this morning for their 10 a.m. service. This hillside church has, from my first visit, exemplified the four criteria I look for and have noted as my key visit criteria for this blog since the beginning. I visit here irregularly, so don’t think I was recognized by anyone but the pastor today. I was greeted warmly by six or seven individuals as I entered.
The Lutheran liturgy is comforting in that one always knows where they are in the service and what’s coming next. The music clearly was not entertainment but each song contributed to the service as a whole.
Pastor Martin Dasler gave a wonderfully extemporaneous sermon, i.e. not read, in an engaging manner. The “meet n’ greet” here is replaced by the “Passing of the Peace”, a warm acknowledgement and spiritual greeting time that does not allow for non-spiritual chit-chat. I was greeted by about ten individuals in a warm and friendly manner. The hospitality truly flows at Amazing Grace. Communion is served as a portion of the congregation forms a circle around the altar, a four square table made of rough-hewn squared wooden timbers. The congregants finally join hands for a prayer of blessing. Returning to their seats, they’re replaced by the remainder of the congregation to be served.
I was especially touched by four things today. After the congregation had been served, the servers and pastor went to the piano, to serve the pianist and each other, ending in prayer. It was a touching reminder that no one should be left out from the blessings of the Lord’s Table. I was also moved by the warmth of this congregation when Pastor Marty asked for those with birthdays to identify themselves. One woman did so and came forward. He put his hand on her and prayed for the Lord’s blessing on her life. Bartoleme de las Casas was a profoundly pertinent and interesting focus for Pastor Marty's remarks. As a historian, especially of the conquest, it's going to drive me back to my books. Finally, Pastor Marty used a found stone, from their parking lot excavation, to further illustrate today’s First Reading from the Old Testament regarding the story of Jacob, wrestling with the Angel, and placing a stone monument to the Lord, Beth-El. No fru-fru here. This is all heart stuff and very uncommon in churches today.
In the three years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve observed that truly great church visit destinations are consistent and unvarying. Amazing Grace is one of those churches in Anchorage for which I’m proud to say this. I’m glad I visited them again today.