Incarnation Lutheran Church
- Contact: 16889 Espola Rd., Poway 858-487-2225 www.godamong.us
- Membership: 400
- Associate Pastor: Tim Mason
- Age: 58
- Born: St. Cloud, MN
- Formation: University of Minnesota, Morehead State University, KY; Lutheran Northwestern (Lutheran-St. Paul) Seminary, St. Paul, MN
- Years Ordained: 27
San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Tim Mason: Because God’s grace encompasses everything and God’s love is already here, I like to preach in a way that opens ears to the truth and joy that is all around us all the time. That’s the main thing. The joy, the grace, the love is here, even in the midst of all the terror and sadness we read about.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PM: One of my first memories, a missionary named Katie Clark visited our vacation Bible school to talk to us about working with children in Papua-New Guinea. I never forgot that. Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor, a pilot, that sort of thing — and I even finished my pre-med studies in college. But I could never get that memory of Katie Clark out of my head — and so I knew deep in my heart I wanted to be a missionary. In the end, I had to be truthful to that feeling. I could have done anything, but my heart said I have to be a missionary. That’s what I was born to do — whether I understood it or not. I would have rather been a seminary professor or international college professor; but when I was sent to Japan as a missionary, I realized I was an evangelist. I saw that in this way I could affect the world more, by being one who says to others, “God loves you.”
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PM: [Incarnation Lutheran’s Senior] Pastor Luther Symonds is very driven by mission-centered thinking — he thinks globally as well as locally. Globally, we’re helping street girls in Cameroon have a safe place to go so they’re not taken advantage of and abused, and we’re making real progress there. Locally, too, we do what we can with interfaith community services and caregiving ministries…. When you’re a caregiver, your faith comes alive and becomes real. If you don’t love someone, you won’t understand what love is, and if you don’t walk with someone through that valley, you’re not going to understand the depths of God’s grace.
SDR: What book has had the greatest impact on your ministry?
PM: Anything by Henri Nouwen, but especially Wounded Healers. That’s who we are — all of us have been broken by something, but God puts us back together with the cross, and we understand that fact by sharing love and suffering together. By doing that, serving others, we heal each other.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PM: Jesus says, “I have a place for you,” and we don’t know whether there is going to be a bright light or whatever. But when we die, we’re going to be recreated, made healthy, and welcomed, no matter who we are. Jesus has a place for us. We have enough hell right now — loneliness, despair, apathy. If Jesus can say to a criminal, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” and if Jesus can heal an enemy of his people, the centurion’s servant, then hell’s been dealt with. Those who reject Jesus make their own decisions, but that has nothing to do with what Jesus did on the cross… I think some people are going to be in for a very pleasant surprise.