Here are a few snippets of teachings that we find life-giving. We recognize that faith is an ongoing journey, and we do not demand adherence to a particular understanding of creed, respecting each person's integrity in their relationship with God and each person's unfolding journey of spiritual growth.
About Being Lutheran
As Christians with roots in the Lutheran tradition, we are Christian first and Lutheran second. Lutherans have a lot of freedom - in how to structure themselves into a church (for example, bishops or no bishops), how to put together a worship service, what kind of music to use. Over time, as is true of any church, certain ways of doing things become the expected procedures. But we are always free to make modifications in how we deliver the good news of what God is doing in Jesus Christ. The what stays constant.
Typically, Lutherans are known to be people who embrace a "both and" approach. For example, each Christian is both saint and sinner (both completely forgiven and still in daily need of God's grace), we hear God's word to us as both law and gospel (both an accusation of where we fall short and a word of unconditional gift of love and blessing).
We know God as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier (as Father, Son and Holy Spirit). We teach that out of nothing God created the world and all that is in it and continues in ongoing creation. Faith and science do not need to be in conflict - the faithful proclamation of the who and what of creation and the scientific postulation of the how of creation ask and answer different questions.
In Jesus Christ the human being, God was fully present. Through Christ, God accomplished the salvation of the world and is still working out that salvation.
The Holy Spirit is the ongoing presence of God in the world, bringing courage, strength, comfort and inspiration; empowering faithful community; giving gifts of faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and other gifts, bringing together people who would never imagine themselves as sisters and brothers.
About the Bible
The Bible is a book of many books - including pre-history, history, poetry, letters, visions and accounts of Jesus' life. We read the Bible as the inspired word of God to us. We teach that the Bible was not dictated by God, but that people were inspired by God to write. In reading, we take into account the historical and cultural considerations and issues of translation. We see that some things are descriptive of the times they were written and show us how God was working through the people and circumstances of that time: how people discerned God's will, what happened in their relationship to God as they followed and wandered and as God remained faithful to God's promises. Some of these historically and culturally conditioned things no longer apply today. We also see that some things are timeless and prescriptive of how we can most fruitfully live our lives in any era. It can get pretty tricky to discern which things are culturally conditioned and which things are timeless truth, so we continue to engage in dialogue with Scripture, tradition, scholarship, and one another. We see that reading the Bible breathes God's presence to us, and provides a dependable rule and guide for life. No person or group reads the Bible without filters of culture, social location, historical situation, personality, or need. This means that we must always approach the Bible with a spirit of humility, conscious of the limits we bring as human interpreters while also seeking to be prayerfully open to the truth of God's guidance.
About Experiencing God
In addition to Bible reading and study, we experience God through prayer, worship, community, and every-day moments.
Art, poetry, music, drama, nature, dreams, walking a labyrinth, silence, retreats, prayer, meditation, worship, dance, sports, laughter, tears, massage, yoga, serving and being served, protesting, friendship, love, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, life passages and many other experiences can bring us a sense of God's presence.
Everyone has faith - in something or someone. Faith in God comes to us as a gift. We receive this gift simply by trusting that it is true that God loves us - that God forgives us, welcomes us. Jesus shows us that God is for us. Another word for faith is "trust." Faith is not the opposite of doubt. In fact, doubt can bring us to deeper understanding and deeper trust in God. A tested faith is a strengthened faith. Faith can grow through spiritual practices such as prayer and God-talk conversations with others, through "aha" moments of insight, through suffering, through deep joy, and through experiences of God such as those outlined above.
Salvation is not just about getting to heaven. Salvation is made real to us in this life as a lifting of bondage, brokenness, burden. Just as Jesus as messiah brought the reign of God near by bringing sight to the blind, healing to the lame, cleansing for lepers, hearing to the deaf, new life to the dead, and good news to the poor, so too today salvation is visible in healing, wholeness, blessing, peace, new life and social transformation. As Christians, we see that salvation comes to us through Jesus Christ. We understand that the Christian church has historically presented several Biblical understandings of how Jesus accomplishes reconciliation between God and humans. We also understand that, similar to the experience of falling in love, some people come to a sudden dramatic moment of accepting Jesus, while for others the experience of being a disciple is a gradual awakening. Both paths are equally valid. Also, we welcome people at all stages of clarity, doubt, peace and discontent in their spiritual walk. We proclaim our faith in Jesus as savior, but we do not condemn those who follow other faith traditions and, indeed, are glad to walk hand-in-hand with them.