Live and learn

Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church

Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church, 955 W. Peckham Lane, has Sunday service at 9 a.m. followed by Bible study at 10:30 a.m.

Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church, 955 W. Peckham Lane, has Sunday service at 9 a.m. followed by Bible study at 10:30 a.m.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

A few weeks ago, I attended the service at The Springs Lutheran Church in its temporary home in the community center of the Lazy 5 Regional Park. At the time, they told me they were an offshoot of the Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church. I’d heard of that church, but I’d never visited it, even though it’s possibly the closest Lutheran church to my home.

So, I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to compare the two churches, the old one with the new one? You couldn’t get a more equal comparison than between two branches of the same church, right? It’s not just an apples-to-apples comparison, but a Braeburn-to-Braeburn comparison. And yet, the two were so different that they invited virtually no comparison.

The Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church is a traditionally styled little church on the corner of Lakeside Drive and West Peckham Lane. I immediately felt its old-school appeal. I was greeted at the door, and I went into the sanctuary and sat down before deciding I should probably mention my purpose. The guy at the door was friendly, but until I made the effort to come back and introduce myself, I was respectfully given my space.

The sanctuary had a peaked wood ceiling and was of a traditional design. The pews were comfortable. There were two tapestries hanging on shepherd’s crooks, but the front of the church, including the chancel, was not ostentatious. The congregation was dressed church-formal, mostly pressed shirts and dresses, but I did note an adult in shorts. There were about 60 members present when the service started.

I was a little confused because there was music being played, but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. My position was such that I couldn’t see that there was a balcony almost directly above and behind me. I could hear an organ and a flute, and there were other instruments I was less sure of, maybe a saxophone or other reed instrument, and a French horn or something brass.

I always say this when I write about Lutheran churches, but I love the way their “bulletin” works. People unfamiliar with the service or church can hold it in their hands and follow along as well as people who’ve been attending for years. When my cell phone embarrassingly went off, I had this crazy thought of an iPhone app that would allow anyone in any Lutheran church to follow along. The local pastor could upload the congregation-specific stuff—including sermons. I’m sure it would save some trees, but it’s not likely to happen any day soon.

Early in the service, Rev. John Beck called the children forward to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” I just think it’s really cute when a bunch of kids sing in church.

The sermon was based on Proverbs 9:8-12, which contains the words: “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

The Rev. Beck’s sermon said that Christians should want to move forward in their understanding of both Christianity and God, and people should seek out those with greater knowledge to learn from. A parent would get mighty peeved if he or she went to their child’s first grade class and discovered a first grader teaching. People expect to advance in the sophistication of their thinking. And from the outside, people expect students and practitioners to advance in their knowledge and practice of whatever it is they’re doing as they gain experience and deeper understanding.

The pastor said this deeper study would improve the students’ lives: “You will literally live longer if you learn to live a Biblical lifestyle,” he said. “You will not be a substance abuser or immoral sexually. It is through God that our days are many.”