WHAT WE BELIEVE
St. John is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We believe that God's love is freely and abundantly given to us with no strings attached. In response to that love, we worship, serve others, and share our faith. From the website of our national church office: "We are the church that shares a living, daring confidence in God's grace. Liberated by our faith, we embrace you as a whole person--questions, complexities and all. Join us as we do God's work in Christ's name for the life of the world."
Major Lutheran Concepts
Justification by grace through faith for Christ's sake
Lutherans believe that we are saved by the grace (undeserved love and second chances) of God. Luther did not understand faith to be intellectual (having the right knowledge about God) or emotional (how hard or sincerely one believes). Rather, Luther understood faith to be rooted in relationship and trust. In faith we are trusting in God's promise of forgiveness for Christ's sake found in scripture.
The Lutheran church teaches two sacraments: Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
In Holy Baptism infants as well as adults are welcomed into the church family through the waters of baptism and sealed with a cross, marking the baptized as a beloved child of God.
Lutherans understand Christ to be truly present in the bread and wine (or grape juice) received at communion. Aware of the mystery surrounding such a statement, Lutherans state that Christ is found in, with, and under the elements of Communion.
Law and Gospel
Luther saw God's word being expressed in two forms in scripture - as law and as gospel. The law commands how people should speak and act whereas the gospel is the good news of what God has done for us and will continue to do for us. Law points out our sinful nature and calls for us to do better. Gospel says that in grace we are forgiven and loved. As Luther said, "The law says, 'do this,' and it is never done. Grace says, 'believe in this,' and everything is already done. As Lutherans we believe in the goodness found in both Law and Gospel and hold them in constant balance.
Saint and Sinner
Luther described Christians as "simultaneously saint and sinner." Our rightness with God depends solely on God's grace and mercy, and so Lutherans understand a saint to be a forgiven sinner. Sin, that which separates us from God, is a strong force in the world, but God's forgiveness and grace is stronger yet.