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Maria Santa Cruz: Heaven is a promised place

If we don’t see how we are behaving, we don’t see the necessity to repent.

Maria Santa Cruz
Maria Santa Cruz

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 4011 Ohio St, San Diego 619-283-5936 www.oursaviorslutheransd.org
  • Membership: 100
  • Pastor: Maria Santa Cruz
  • Age: 60
  • Born: Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Formation: Pacific Lutheran Theology Seminary, Berkeley
  • Years Ordained: 20

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermons?

Pastor Maria Santa Cruz: I pretty much begin reading the readings for the following Sunday as soon as I finish my Sunday services. That’s when I start to get my sermon ready for the next Sunday. I don’t write it down until Friday, but I’m thinking about it the whole week.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

PSC: Repentance. It is easy to blame God for how the world is. But it is not easy to see ourselves and how we are behaving. If we don’t see how we are behaving, we don’t see the necessity to repent.

SDR: What is your main concern as member of the clergy?

PSC: People get so panicked by COVID-19. We have so much fear and panic; it is not good because then you do things that are not good for you. For example, you can run away from prayer and things like that. I keep telling people that no matter what happens to us, God will hear us. I try to make sure the people aren’t feeling alone – I walk with them through their troubles.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PSC: I love this work, and since I was a child I tended to that route. I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, but I wasn’t allowed to participate in the ministry at the altar. At that time in Mexico, only boys were allowed. I was always reading the Bible, looking for answers in the scriptures. In 1990, someone knocked on my door and it was two pastors, a female and a male, from a Lutheran church, and they invited me to their church. When I went to their church, they asked me if I wanted to read the readings during Sunday service. I said, “You’ll allow me to read?” So then I started attending Bible studies there and, because I asked many questions, the pastor said I needed to go to the seminary. He was like my father in the faith. So that’s how I wound up being ordained.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PSC: The mission is to reach out to those who are without God, everybody and anybody – without any preference. We feel that we are there to meet all needs.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PSC: My husband was killed by a drunk driver, and it was hard for me to see God’s presence on that first day after he died. Then I felt his presence one day when I was crying. I looked around and when I saw the leaves on a tree moving in the wind, I thought it was strange – but I felt at that moment the peace I needed.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PSC: I believe in both heaven and hell. I believe that hell is a place of torment for your actions. It’s not a punishment but a condition. When we say the Apostle’s Creed, we know that Jesus went to hell to tell Satan that he, God, won the battle. Heaven is a promised place that God has for us – and I want to go to heaven but I also believe that I have the freedom to choose either heaven or hell.

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Maria Santa Cruz
Maria Santa Cruz

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 4011 Ohio St, San Diego 619-283-5936 www.oursaviorslutheransd.org
  • Membership: 100
  • Pastor: Maria Santa Cruz
  • Age: 60
  • Born: Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Formation: Pacific Lutheran Theology Seminary, Berkeley
  • Years Ordained: 20

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermons?

Pastor Maria Santa Cruz: I pretty much begin reading the readings for the following Sunday as soon as I finish my Sunday services. That’s when I start to get my sermon ready for the next Sunday. I don’t write it down until Friday, but I’m thinking about it the whole week.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

PSC: Repentance. It is easy to blame God for how the world is. But it is not easy to see ourselves and how we are behaving. If we don’t see how we are behaving, we don’t see the necessity to repent.

SDR: What is your main concern as member of the clergy?

PSC: People get so panicked by COVID-19. We have so much fear and panic; it is not good because then you do things that are not good for you. For example, you can run away from prayer and things like that. I keep telling people that no matter what happens to us, God will hear us. I try to make sure the people aren’t feeling alone – I walk with them through their troubles.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PSC: I love this work, and since I was a child I tended to that route. I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, but I wasn’t allowed to participate in the ministry at the altar. At that time in Mexico, only boys were allowed. I was always reading the Bible, looking for answers in the scriptures. In 1990, someone knocked on my door and it was two pastors, a female and a male, from a Lutheran church, and they invited me to their church. When I went to their church, they asked me if I wanted to read the readings during Sunday service. I said, “You’ll allow me to read?” So then I started attending Bible studies there and, because I asked many questions, the pastor said I needed to go to the seminary. He was like my father in the faith. So that’s how I wound up being ordained.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PSC: The mission is to reach out to those who are without God, everybody and anybody – without any preference. We feel that we are there to meet all needs.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PSC: My husband was killed by a drunk driver, and it was hard for me to see God’s presence on that first day after he died. Then I felt his presence one day when I was crying. I looked around and when I saw the leaves on a tree moving in the wind, I thought it was strange – but I felt at that moment the peace I needed.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PSC: I believe in both heaven and hell. I believe that hell is a place of torment for your actions. It’s not a punishment but a condition. When we say the Apostle’s Creed, we know that Jesus went to hell to tell Satan that he, God, won the battle. Heaven is a promised place that God has for us – and I want to go to heaven but I also believe that I have the freedom to choose either heaven or hell.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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