Today we gathered with the saints in worship at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon, Colorado. There are not a ton of ELCA congregations in the area around Copper Mountain where we are staying, so I recommend this congregation to you if you are traveling in the area.
I was blessed to just be a dad in worship today. It helped me realize what a challenge it is for my spouse to parent three small children through worship each Sunday. I'm amazed.
Lord of the Mountains really is right in the mountains. You park in a small parking lot facing a ravine, then walk into the church, where the windows on both sides of the sanctuary face out onto views of mountain peaks. You pass a large and inspiring baptismal bowl full of clear water, which accentuates the crispness of the snow outside with clarity and grace.
Lord of the Mountains was honestly one of the warmest, most welcoming congregations I have been to in years. Not only did they greet and welcome us as we entered, they also had all visitors stand up during worship to introduce themselves, and handed us small welcome bags. Sometimes I've heard of this being potentially oppressive in a worship setting, but I did not find it to be so here, because the tenor had already been set throughout the service, with an emphasis on inclusion, welcome, and grace.
Everything about the church and the pastor's message emphasized inclusion, social justice, and the life of faith as visioning the Kingdom of God.
During the early part of the service, I spent my time letting our littlest roam on the floor in a corner near the choir (the choir seating area, that is). The pastor, Joseph Holub, had designed some special litanies for New Year's Day worship. He also offered a wonderful children's sermon (I got to be the dad who took the kids up for the children's message) in which he showed the children his new journal, his resolution for the year being to journal daily and see Christ in others.
The congregation is blessed with an outstanding organist and musician. They host concert series of various sorts in Dillon. You can't help going away from this church without the impression that a) they do bang-up music, b) they are welcoming and inclusive, and c) they focus on social justice ministries.
On this last point, they decorate their narthex/welcome area with large photos illustrating their mission foci. I plan to take this last idea back to my own congregation. The large color photos printed on canvas frames illustrated more than any bulletin board could the primary mission projects the church supports.
Thank you to Lord of the Mountains for their warm welcome, and for welcoming us to the table of the Lord for communion, and sharing a good word with us. The next time we're in Dillon, we'll be back.
[p.s. I forgot to mention that the couple sitting in front of us during worship once lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the 1970s, and worshipped at the church I now pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Small world.]