Ascension Facts and Beliefs
Ascension is a congregation that was planted on the hill by some passionate and spirited Lutherans in 1959. That enterprising and missional spirit still lives on in the lives of the 400+ people who call Ascension home. But our ultimate home is in Christ, whom we desire to follow with all our hearts.
What To Expect
When you come to Ascension for the first time, presuming that’s for a weekend worship service, you’ll find the doors open and the lights on and the welcome mat laid out. We’re a group of people, young and old, dyed-in-the-wool Lutherans and brand new Christians, that are generally described as warm, friendly and inviting. Most people are rather casually dressed, though a few among us still get more dressed up for Church. Worship services are held in the worship center or sanctuary. Open the doors and you’ll find a relatively small but beautiful space with stained glass windows, wooden pews and worship furniture designed to draw our attention and focus on God.
If you arrive before worship begins you’re likely to hear a piano, organ or praise band playing music. Feel free to grab a bulletin or whatever hand-out is available, make yourself at home and sit wherever you like. Our worship experiences are hopefully guest-friendly, but feel free to participate as much or little as you like. We celebrate Communion regularly and all those gathered, whether members or not, are invited to participate. We simply ask that you share with us a belief that Christ is truly present in this sacrament to forgive our sins and assure us of our salvation.
What We Believe
- The Bible: We believe that the Bible is God's Word and our final authority in matters of faith and life. (2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 119:105)
- God: We believe that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), eternally existing in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:13)
- Jesus Christ: We believe that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully human, who by His death on the cross has redeemed us. (1 Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 9:6, Colossians 1:15-20)
- The Church: We believe that we are a part of one true Church (Ephesians 4:4-6, Romans 12:5) made up of all who believe in Christ as Lord. We extend the hand of fellowship to all members of this universal Christian Church. (Romans 15:7)
- Salvation: We believe that Christ alone (Acts 4:12, John 14:6) provides salvation. This salvation is a free gift. ("grace"– Ephesians 2:8-9) We believe that one can be certain of eternal life. ("assurance"– John 5:24) We believe that we partake of this free gift of grace by faith alone (Romans 3:28, John 3:16), and thereby enter a lifelong process of change and growth. (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20)
- Baptism and the Lord's Supper: We believe that Jesus instituted Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe that God truly acts in these sacraments to forgive our sins, and that our faith is essential for their effectiveness. (Mark 16:16, 1 Corinthians 11:29, John 3:16)
- Prayer: We believe that God answers prayer and we encourage everyone to grow in prayer. (James 5:16, Matthew 18:18-20)
- Human Nature: We believe that human nature is sinful and is redeemed only through faith in Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:23)
- Our Lutheran Heritage and Identity: We identify with the renewal movement begun in the Lutheran Reformation. We believe the Lutheran themes of grace through faith alone, scripture alone, and Christ alone.
- Changed Life: We believe that becoming a Christian leads to a changed life. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We call this change "sanctification," which is a lifelong process of growth in selfless love, humility, service, stewardship, and holiness under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Because a good tree bears good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18), people justified by grace through faith act on that faith and will change and grow in Christ. (2 Peter 3:18, James 1:22, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 5:17, Ephesians 4:22-24)
What's the Big Deal About Church?
Eugene Peterson wrote a brilliant description of the Christian Church in his introduction to the Biblical book of James. He writes:
When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business – and dishonest business at that. Insiders see it differently. Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. Many of the people outside are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised. It’s similar with sinners outside the church.
So Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with.
So Ascension isn’t a place for perfect people, it’s a place for broken, wounded, searching souls seeking to discover the love, grace and mercy of Almighty God. Jesus always sought out the lost, the least, the last and the lowest; they’re the ones who were often the most open to His love. We count ourselves among them.
(2 Eugene Peterson, from introduction to James from The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (NavPres 2002), p. 1669.)