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Lutheran, Mt Shasta, California, USA
Christ Lutheran, Mt Shasta, California, USA.
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Christ Lutheran Church is a small sanctuary, about 20 years
old, which has seating for about 80 people.
This Lutheran congregation used to be at Dunsmuir (about eight
miles to the south), which at one time had a larger population
than Mount Shasta due to its strategic location for the Southern
Pacific Railway (roundhouse turntable and place where pusher
locomotives were added for the uphill climb to the slopes
of Mount Shasta.) When Dunsmuir was no longer important to
Southern Pacific, the town declined in population. Twenty
years ago, the Lutheran and Episcopal congregations moved
to Mount Shasta, which is now the main city in the area. The
church is located in a residential area within a forest of
Mount Shasta (the city, population 3,600), is nestled between
Mount Shasta, a majestic volcano of 14,179 feet to the east;
Black Butte, a volcanic plug dome to the north; and the rugged
Scott Mountains to the west. It is a center for vigorous outdoor
recreation and a popular place for retirement. The mountain
that gives this city its name is more than a scenic wonder;
it has an other-worldly quality, a place where mysterious
lights have been seen and which has inspired mystic visions.
Mount Shasta is famous for the lenticular clouds it produces,
which look like extraterrestrial spaceships. This mountain
has been a magnet for Zen Buddhists and New Age groups and
for esoteric healing.
The service was led by the Revd James Cavener. The organist
was Clara Chapman.
The date & time:
May 30, 2010, 10.00am.
What was the name of
Divine Service, Setting Four in the Lutheran Book of Worship
(but without the holy communion, which is normally a part
of this setting).
How full was the building?
The church was about one-third full; I counted 30 people.
Did anyone welcome you
We arrived at about 9.40am and no one was standing at the
door, but a woman sitting inside greeted us and engaged us
in conversation. She invited us to stay for refreshments afterwards.
Another woman arrived and sat next to us; she gave us a bulletin
and talked with us. In this rural congregation it would have
been impossible to remain anonymous; we were immediately involved
in explaining who we were and where we came from.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, the pews were comfortable.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
As congregational members arrived, they greeted one another
and conversed. There was meditative organ music 10 minutes
before the beginning of the service which accompanied the
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"The Lord be with you (and also with you). Welcome to
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
The hymn book was the Lutheran Service Book of the
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The liturgy was easy to follow
because it was presented in the bulletin.
What musical instruments
Did anything distract
The heating system had a loud fan that went on and off during
the course of the service. Actually, the heating was not necessary,
as it was a bright, warm day.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The service was formal and liturgical. Unusual for me was
that the pastor did everything; he did all the readings and
he was lead singer. Also distinctive was that we sat during
the creed and knelt during the closing benediction. At the
end of the service the pastor asked all visitors to introduce
themselves. Immediately, all heads turned in our direction.
It was a bit unnerving to suddenly be the center of curiosity.
We had the feeling that we stuck out like sore thumbs. However,
it was a gesture of friendliness.
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
6 It was a sermon loaded with interesting observations
and illustrations; each had a place within the structure of
the sermon. Sometimes the anecdotal observations took on a
life of their own, so that the thread running through the
sermon was not always recognizable. The pastor had obviously
put a lot of work into the preparation.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
The Trinity: We see God through three Persons. We know God
the Father through his works of creation. The vastness of
the universe and the beauty of creation reveal the greatness
of God. But the God of creation is not enough. Through God
the Son, who reveals the love of the Father, mankind becomes
connected to God. The Son frees us from fear of judgment.
The Holy Spirit helps us to tune into God. Materialism and
hedonism are what people are usually tuned into. The Holy
Spirit brings us back to God through the grace of forgiveness.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Mount Shasta is known as the place "where heaven and
earth meet." Before going into the church, one can see
this magnificent mountain framed in tall pine trees, and this
view is the prelude to the service and gives worship a heavenly
dimension. Additionally, a liturgical worship that combines
historic/traditional elements with appropriate melodies is
for me a foretaste of heaven. I especially appreciated the
setting of the Gloria in Excelsis, which was pleasingly
formulated and easy to sing.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The "other place" (and who goes there) was defined
in no uncertain terms at the time of the confession of faith.
What made this service unforgettable and thought-provoking
was the use of the Athanasian Creed in celebration of Trinity
Sunday. This creed begins with the warning that whoever does
not keep the Trinitarian faith whole and undefiled shall perish
everlastingly. I once heard this creed summed up in the following
way: "If you try to understand the Trinity you will go
crazy; if you donít believe in it you will be damned."
Using this creed as an element of worship is daring and provocative!
I think that this creed should be taken seriously, but the
eternal threat it imposes needs to be clarified in a credible
way before being spoken by a congregation. How many people,
who were brought into eternal fellowship with God by Jesus,
could have confessed with integrity the Athanasian Creed?
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
No chance to hang around looking lost. Before we got out of
our seats, people approached us and engaged us in conversation,
inviting us to stay for coffee.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
The coffee was mild and in real cups. Home-baked cookies gave
it a personal touch. I appreciate the time the pastor took
to answer my questions about developments in his congregation
and in his denomination.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
6 This congregation approaches visitors and makes them
feel welcome. I also like the pastorís striving to preserve
the historic identity of the church in worship. Due to the
small size of the congregation I would feel somewhat limited
if I was a member.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, because of the good-natured friendliness of the people
and the agreeable liturgical order of service.
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How awkward it felt to be asked to stand up and introduce
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