Blazing heart

Faith Lutheran Church

Faith’s peaked roof is a favorite style among Lutheran churches.

Faith’s peaked roof is a favorite style among Lutheran churches.

Photo By David Robert

Faith Lutheran Church, 2075 W. Seventh St., 747-3246. Services are Sunday at 9:30 a.m., with Christian education at 10:45 a.m. The church is starting a youth group, which will meet on Wednesdays at 6:15; call 560-3248.

I don’t mean to over-generalize, but older areas of town have a different character than the new ones. It’s not just the color palette or design of the homes, or the maturity of the trees, or even the themed street names. What older neighborhoods have are these small, community churches. This morning, as I drove over to Faith Lutheran Church, I wondered which came first, the church or the neighborhood. In the case of Faith Lutheran, it was the church. In 1956, the year it was built, it was known as the “Church on the Hill,” and it was all alone.

Now, it’s a charming, little, older church in the middle of a bustling older neighborhood. Sonja Dresbach invited me over and gave me the grand tour. She was busy getting snacks together when I arrived, but I hung around the foyer and listened to the arriving congregants exchange the time of day. As she led me around the church, she told me about the church’s great involvement in the community, particularly the Interfaith Hospitality Network, and introduced me to almost everyone we met.

I’m beginning to figure out that the basic architecture of churches are very similar. Often, there is a ring of rooms around the worship area—kitchen, smaller rooms that are used for Sunday school, office, sacristy, restrooms—form follows function.

The sanctuary was simple and unpretentious, a traditional Lutheran sanctuary as I’ve come to understand the term. The ceiling was sharply peaked, a cross at one end, windows at the other, more windows casting natural light down on the chancel. The 11-member choir, accompanied by pianist and a flautist, was at the left. The 40-member congregation was seated on fairly comfortable, burgundy-colored, padded chairs. The traditional-styled choir added a beautiful lead to the hymns and prayers, and the congregation sang with more gusto than I’ve heard in many churches.

The chancel was also simple. Sort of circular, the wall was recessed at the rear. It contained a lectern at the left, candles, the altar and a stylized crucifix. The items made of wood had a light-blond stain. To the right, there was a single green tapestry with a cross and sprigs of wheat and the words, “I am life.” There was a red candle nearby, and I wondered if the red glass represented a heart with the light burning within.

I must confess, I don’t know the titles of all the people who participated in the service, suffice it to say, at various times, an individual would come to the lectern or the altar for readings or to lead prayers. My hostess, Sonja, led a song with a high, wavering voice.

At one point, Pastor Tom Beck called the children to the front to teach an exercise about trust. It was cute. He asked the children to participate: “Who wants to be a pirate?” “Who wants to be bandit?” “Who wants to be a French maid in a field in the spring?” The pastor has a strong but gentle voice, but those kids weren’t going for it. They know they trust their moms, though. Again, charming.

The readings were from Habakkuk (1:1-4; 2:1-4), 2 Timothy 1:1-14 and Luke 17:5-10. Pastor Beck themed his sermon around faith, particularly from Timothy and Luke, but he drew anecdotes from the world at large, including an article he read about Mother Teresa. He also spoke more about Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism than I’ve heard in the past. Instructive.

“Faith is not feeling … faith is not thinking … faith is not growth and resources. Faith is something else,” he said. “Faith is an act of freedom … faith is spiritual ecstasy,” and quoting Kierkegaard, “faith is swimming in a bottomless sea.” And, referring to the Luke passage, “Those persons who have a little faith have enough.”

Want to introduce Brian to your place of worship? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.