Discerning your Role

Thanks so much for signing on to continue developing in your role. Your willingness to do the work that honors God during this season of your life will bless all in the Body of Christ.

Here’s the process:
Step 1: Complete a spiritual gifts assessment, using one of these three resources:

Spiritual Gifts Assessment (worksheet that can be used alone)

S.H.A.P.E Study (Bible study, with materials for groups and a book)

ELCA Spiritual Gifts Inventory (online form)

Step 2: Compare your gifts with our current list of committees and ministries.

Step 3: Connect with the leader of that group to sign up to participate in their ongoing work within our congregation.

Optional: If you get stuck at any point, you’re welcome to connect with me to set up a time for a one-on-one discernment session. Fill out the form below:

We’re looking forward to seeing you continue to develop and grow!

Blood drive: February 9

We need YOU!

The need for blood is extreme! Some surgeries in our area are being postponed for want of sufficient blood supplies. All blood types are needed, as the severe weather on the East Coast is causing severe shortages nationwide.

Our next Blood Drive is:

February 9, 2018
12:30 – 6:30 pm

Please sign up to donate, either online at www.redcrosss.org (choose the Beautiful Savior Drive) or call Phil Y. at 503.720.9009.

Thank you in advance for serving our community in this way!

Writers: join us!

If you have a passion for writing and a desire to serve our community through the written word, we’d love for you to join our brand new Bloggers Guild!

Beginning in January, BSLC Bloggers will write on a range of topics throughout the year – congregational events, community engagement, theology, Bible study and more. This is a great way to serve our community and make a big impact from home, using whatever time you have available to sit down to write.

We’re excited to build this new ministry and we hope you’ll join us!

Click here and fill out the contact page with questions or to sign up.

Inviting you to a different kind of season

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

This week traditionally also kicks off the holiday spending season in the United States. Stores push their best Black Friday deals and encourage us to spend money on things we don’t need. They encourage us to buy their products so we can impress our friends, families, and neighbors with our ability to spot and pick out the “latest and greatest” gadgets and gifts.

Our purchases come at a cost on several levels:

  • There’s the price we actually pay, of course, in the form of dollars exchanged for goods and/or services.
  • Then there’s the emotional cost of financially overcommitting. Numerous scientific studies show that spending beyond our means results in significant stress and decreased emotional wellness.
  • And of course, we pay a human price when we overconsume cheap goods in the form of “best deals.”

Our “best deals” in the Western world are often produced in developing countries where the people who assemble the items we purchase are treated in ways that do not align with the Biblical mandate to care for the poor (Deuteronomy 24:14, Psalm 9:18, Proverbs 17:5, Matthew 25:35, Mark 12:40, among many others!).

When we choose to participate in consumer-driven and materialistic cultural rituals during the holidays, that leads us away from the original intention of the season. So here’s an invitation to consider this season from a different set of perspectives:

  1. This week, give thanks. Instead of planning your Black Friday shopping extravaganza, focus on the reason for tomorrow. We celebrate Thanksgiving to “give thanks” for all that is good in our lives.
  2. During Advent, wait. Culture tells us the season should be frantic and filled to the brim with all the stuff we can cram into it. A truly Christian countercultural experience of Advent involves taking steps to protect our hearts, schedules, and families from the typical crush of the season in favor of a season of waiting on Christ and remembering where our true hope lies. Not in more stuff or more commitments, but in Jesus.
  3. On Christmas, celebrate. The arrival of Jesus is a truly joyous moment of celebration! True celebration requires energy. How many parents out there make it to Christmas Day and can’t keep their eyes open long enough to watch the kids open presents? Often, this is because Christmas Day is the day that the crushing pace of the holiday schedule catches up. There is literally not enough energy left to make it through the day! Thinking about this is in advance, and choosing a different path, allows all of us to save time and energy for the day of celebration, so we can mean the songs we sing with JOY!
  4. When the New Year rolls around, start fresh. Scripture tells us that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24). This is always true and we always have the ability to start refreshed and renewed. There does seem to be something special about the New Year. Take some time to pray through what God might have for you in 2018. Perhaps instead of attending many parties and gatherings, a better use of your time at the end of one year and the beginning of another might involve time for reflection and goal planning?

If any of the resonates with you, we’d love to hear from you! Please post a comment below and let us know what type of holiday season you’re anticipating. No matter what you choose, know that we’re praying for you during this holiday season – that you experience more of Christ’s goodness and grace!

Christa Cordova serves the Beautiful Savior community as ministry apprentice and occasional blogger (June 2017-March 2018). She anticipates completing her master of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary in June 2018.

Practicing Gratitude in Month of Thanks

The month of November invites us to consider all the things in our lives for which we may give thanks. Sounds fairly straightforward and easy, right?

For some folks, that might very well be true, but for others of us, developing a practice of gratitude is difficult in any part of the year, even in a month celebrating thankfulness.

Some of my (Christa) favorite gratitude practices include small but intentional methods to work moments of gratefulness into my daily rhythms and routines. I don’t currently use all listed below, but I have used (and loved) them all at points in the past.

The Prayer of Examen reminds us to look for something in our day for which we can give God thanks. Click the blue link for a downloadable form you can use to guide your own prayers.

Gratitude journaling is a practice that allows us to record moments of grace throughout our days. At the end of a given period of time, we can look back and see the records of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Click the blue link for a Weekly Gratitude Journal from Play2LearnWithSarah.

If you have space on a wall, you might also consider a “thankful tree.” Designs can be as simple or complicated as you like, but the basic idea is that a leaf is added every day that includes an item or thought of gratitude. We’ve got one up on our wall at church and we invite you to add your own leaf if you stop by!


We invite you to come celebrate gratitude with our community during our annual Thanksgiving Eve service on Wednesday, November 22 at 7:00 pmT, followed by a pie social.

Christa Cordova serves the Beautiful Savior community as ministry apprentice and occasional blogger (June 2017-March 2018). She anticipates completing her master of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary in June 2018.

The Reformation and Education

During October (as part of the #Write31Days online challenge), we’re unpacking what the Reformation means for our faith community here on our blog. Click here to catch up on the rest of the series.

As the seminary ministry apprentice that I (Christa) am, I often groan about my full-time workload, the 4,000 pages of reading I have to do in 11 weeks (not a joke or an exaggeration when I take four classes in a term!), and the writing, don’t even get me started about all the writing! It’s a lot and it’s easy to take my privileged academic position for granted. Without the work of the Reformers, my education wouldn’t be possible.

Prior to the Protestant Reformation, theological education had become solely the work of the church. Theological education was conducted in Latin, a language that excluded lay people, and the church was run by men. When women had access to Christian education, it typically existed only within the confines of convent walls.

The Reformers, with their five solas (sola Scriptura, sola fide, solus Christus, sola gratie, soli deo Gloria), set out to change all of that. They wanted to bring theology and Christian education to the people.

Desiderius Erasmus emphasized a “disciplined, biblically based Christianity” (from Diarmond MacCulloch’s book The Reformation: A History, page 102) and in 1511 compared Greek and Latin versions of the Bible. His work paved the way for Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament into the German vernacular in 1522.  Anne Locke actively translated devotional materials into English so that Protestants in England could use them for personal study. Also in England, William Tyndale worked to translate the Bible from its original languages into English so that the common people in that country could also read the Word of God in a language they’d understand.

From these humble beginnings during the Reformation, Christian education options have grown and flourished. Resources for personal and communal study abound, as do options for ministry-focused higher education. Whether we pick a book from our Amazon list or register for a seminary class, we do so because of the work of the folks who’ve come before us and paved the way for our studies.

If you’re ready to deepen your study of the Bible, here are some great resources:

By Heart: Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism

Lutheran Study Bible

Bread for the Day: Daily Bible Readings and Prayers

Save the date: October 29! We’ll celebrate the Reformation and the confirmation of 7 young people in our community with one service at 10:00 a.m. Our synod bishop will preach, and we’ll follow the service with an Oktoberfest celebration. Come for the service, stay for the German food, beer and wine (for a donation), a hymn sing and lots of fun!

Christa Cordova serves the Beautiful Savior community as ministry apprentice and occasional blogger (June 2017-March 2018). She anticipates completing her master of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary in 2018.

#MeToo and the Reformation

Trigger warning: this post contains a discussion of harassment, abuse, and power dynamics. Please proceed according to personal level of comfort with these topics. 

During October (as part of the #Write31Days online challenge), we’re unpacking what the Reformation means for our faith community here on our blog. Click here to catch up on the rest of the series.

Yesterday, the media world was flooded by the hashtag #MeToo. Women around the world shared their stories of harassment and abuse with their friends and platform audiences, in an effort to share the pervasiveness of these problems women face.

Although credited to Alyssa Milano this week, the hashtag-movement started 10 years ago when activist Tarana Burke coined the phrase. As I (Christa) study the Reformation this month and observe the viral event this week, I can’t help but wonder if the Mothers of the Reformation would stand in solidarity with all of us today? After mulling it over for a bit (24 hours… seriously just “a bit”), I feel that they would.

Harassment in all forms is about more than sexuality, at the heart of the desire to harass is a desire to control. To assert one’s power over another. Throughout much of church history, women have been subjected to (and subjugated by) men in power. The time period of the Reformation is no historical exception.

Margaretha Pruss was a woman of the Reformation who desired to see the ideals of the time spread in print. As the daughter of a printer, however, she was ineligible to join the local printer’s guild. As such, she entered into marriages with other printers (three to be exact, although not simultaneously!) so she could continue her work. Elisabeth Cruciger arose as the first Protestant hymn writer. Although she was a close friend of Martin Luther and his family, her works were considered subversive and were subsequently banned. Even Katherina Luther, who seems to me to be the focus of new academic focus, was overshadowed by her husband Martin’s long historical shadow. The powers that have been prominent in the last 500 years have continued to assert their power over the narrative of history, excluding women from their rightful places in our books.

For more on this topic, I recommend the excellent book Mrs. Luther and Her Sisters: Women in the Reformation by Derek Wilson.

So what’s a follower of Christ in 2017 to do with all this information?

First, speak up. When you experience harassment, either directly or as an observer, say something. Esquire offers great workplace tips and Southern Poverty Law Center offers a comprehensive guide to speaking up against any kind of hatred on its website.

Second, speak out. Tell your elected officials, local journalists, community leaders and others in positions of authority that harassment in any form is not acceptable. Write letters or emails, tweet or post Facebook comments. It doesn’t matter much what you do, as long as you’re taking action. Pinot Mom offers advice on how to take action in 5 minutes a day, and yes, that really is all the time it takes to make a difference in the world.

Third, speak in. Be kind to folks who’ve experienced harassment. The #MeToo movement teaches us that most women have experienced deep hurt in their lives. If you’re a woman reading this, that means you likely have too. I have and there can be great comfort in a community as those of us with common experiences lean on one another for encouragement. In doing so, we “spur one another on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Taking this a step further, try speaking life into your own experience as well. Experiences of power dominance, like harassment and abuse, can lead to feelings of helplessness and shame that threaten senses of self and identity. It’s often difficult to unwind these feelings without help and gifted counselors are true blessings on this journey. If you need one, here’s a resource to get you started.

If you’re a man reading this, you’ve got women in your life who’ve experienced harassment or abuse of some kind. They need you to speak into their lives – words of encouragement, safety, and comfort. Sadly, resources for you all are few. While researching this post, I dug through four pages of Google search results to get to just one article that I can reasonably recommend. Here it is, from Men’s Health. If you’d like to join the conversation and post additional resources in the comments section below, I’ll add them back to this post.

Editing to add additional helpful resources from readers:
21 Things Not To Say To Sexual Abuse Victims

I leave you with a hymn from the Reformation that sings to us of God our protector. My prayer is that this song reminds you (and me too) where our help comes from in any time of trouble. When those in power harass or abuse, may we continue to stubbornly cling to the truth that God is a mighty fortress:

And finally, here’s a second piece that I tend to post when writing on matters related to any kind of hurt that needs healing. It reminds me that those of who are broken and seek wholeness (and the folks that love and support us) can’t rush our healing:

Save the date: October 29! We’ll celebrate the Reformation and the confirmation of 7 young people in our community with one service at 10:00 a.m. Our synod bishop will preach, and we’ll follow the service with an Oktoberfest celebration. Come for the service, stay for the German food, beer and wine (for a donation), a hymn sing and lots of fun!

Christa Cordova serves the Beautiful Savior community as ministry apprentice and occasional blogger (June 2017-March 2018). She anticipates completing her master of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary in 2018.

Sola Scriptura: Reformation Inspiration

During October (as part of the #Write31Days online challenge), we’re unpacking what the Reformation means for our faith community here on our blog. Click here to catch up on the rest of the series.

What sparked the Reformation? That’s a question that gets asked a lot in academic circles! Some folks say that Martin Luther’s decision to nail his theses to the door was the spark that lit the Reformation flame, others say that the Reformation actually started much earlier, with the now-called “pre-reformers” speaking out against what they saw to be problems within the Roman Catholic church.

As far as history is concerned, it doesn’t much matter how the Reformation started. It’s impact continues to be felt around the world, even after 500 years.

Whether or not the Reformation was officially started by Martin Luther or his predecessor John Huss, all who participated in shaping this important historical event were first thoroughly shaped by Scripture. While all were informed by passages from the entire Bible, there are a few we can point to as particularly important.

Romans 1:16-17For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

This passage inspired Martin Luther in a big way. Pastor R.C. Sproul says that when Martin Luther read 1:17, it sparked a “moment of awakening.” Martin Luther realized that humans are saved through the faith that God alone has the power to give us, not by any works necessary to achieve it.

Luke 22:19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Ulrich Zwingli was influenced by this verse and his interpretation of the passage opposed Martin Luther’s. Zwingli interprets the verse to indicate that Holy Communion is an act that remembers Christ’s body and blood, which were shed during the crucifixion. Martin Luther maintained a position similar to the Roman Catholic position on transubstantiation (which states that the elements of communion become the body and blood of Christ). In Luther’s own words he states that Christ’s body and blood are “truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms.” When Zwingli and Luther couldn’t work out their difference in opinion, the young Protestant church split further. The churches that followed Zwingli’s theology became what is now known as the “Reformed” traditions.

Here’s a video that outlines more of the differences between these two fathers of the Reformation:

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

This passage influenced John Calvin’s theology of predestination, the idea that God has decided in advance (“predetermined”) which humans will be saved and which will not. The idea remains controversial to this day and provides lots of material for academic study! It’s a complicated subject, but here’s a great short video that explains the concept well:

Ready to learn more? Click here for a great book on how the Bible influenced the Reformation.

Save the date: October 29! We’ll celebrate the Reformation and the confirmation of 7 young people in our community with one service at 10:00 a.m. Our synod bishop will preach, and we’ll follow the service with an Oktoberfest celebration. Come for the service, stay for the German food, beer and wine (for a donation), a hymn sing and lots of fun!

Christa Cordova serves the Beautiful Savior community as ministry apprentice and occasional blogger (June 2017-March 2018). She anticipates completing her master of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary in 2018.

Reformation perspectives

During October (as part of the #Write31Days online challenge), we’re unpacking what the Reformation means for our faith community here on our blog. Click here to catch up on the rest of the series.

I (Christa) have developed a serious academic crush on church history and I’m having a ton of fun sharing everything I’m learning about the Reformation with you!

While researching any new post, paper or blog series, I love the process of digging into a variety of perspectives on any given topic. God has gifted so many individuals with histories and experiences that lead them to the most amazing conclusions on any given topic. It’s a delight to read what they come up with and bounce their ideas off those I feel God has given me.

In this post, I hope to share a bit of this experience with and am including links to my several perspectives on the Reformation below. Not all authors’ opinions align with either my own or with those of many in our congregation, but reading all can give us a sense of how BIG the Reformation continues to be. The events we’re celebrating this month continue to influence theologians and thought-leaders 500 years later. My hope and prayer is that the discussions sparked by collective interest in this topic draw us closer to Christ and one another as we grow in grace and knowledge.

The Church We Need Now: Why the Anabaptist Vision Matters by Peter Mommsen (Anabaptist perspective)
The Reformation Rescued the Gospel by R.C. Sproul (Reformed perspective)
Re-Forming the Church by George Weigel (Catholic perspective)
Things You Might Not Know about the Reformation by Rod Boriack (Lutheran perspective)
The Reformation at 500 by Russell Moore (Evangelical perspective)
Luther, Prayer and the Reformation by William R. Russell (Lutheran perspective)

If anything jumps out and catches your attention in any of these articles, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear what you think!

As you leave today’s short study of the Reformation, we send you on with one of Martin Luther’s prayers about knowledge:

Dear Lord God,
Grant me your grace so that I may rightly understand your Word, and more importantly, also do it.
Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, if my quest after knowledge does not glorify you alone, let me not know a single letter.
Give me only so much as I, a poor sinner, need to know to proclaim and glorify you.
Amen.

Save the date: October 29! We’ll celebrate the Reformation and the confirmation of 7 young people in our community with one service at 10:00 a.m. Our synod bishop will preach, and we’ll follow the service with an Oktoberfest celebration. Come for the service, stay for the German food, beer and wine (for a donation), a hymn sing and lots of fun!

Christa Cordova serves the Beautiful Savior community as ministry apprentice and occasional blogger (June 2017-March 2018). She anticipates completing her master of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary in 2018.