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Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran: “Extending God’s welcome to all we meet along the way.”

The strangest place we find God is on the cross

Marcus Lohrmann
Marcus Lohrmann

Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 10842 Fury Lane, La Mesa 619-670-7656 www.svlc.org
  • Membership: 200
  • Pastor: Marcus Lohrmann 
  • Age: 33
  • Born: Walla Walla, WA
  • Formation: Valparaiso University, IN; University of Chicago Divinity School; Lutheran Seminary, Chicago.
  • Years Ordained: 4

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Marcus Lohrmann: The desperation of God’s longing for us and to liberate us in love. God moves towards all of creation and I would call that a desperate ache and hope that God has for us. There is this idea that God is a policeman, a moralistic jail keeper. I’m not convinced that that’s who God is. You don’t see that in the story of the cross and the story of Jesus. In the gospels, we’re constantly seeing the story of God moving closer to us. That to me feels pretty countercultural. So in my preaching, I always try to bring hope for the life of God that I see in scripture, the one who is confidently doing everything for us to draw us into life in abundance.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PL: I hang my hat on Shepherd of the Valley’s official vision statement: “Extending God’s welcome to all we meet along the way.” What attracted me to this church was the fact that they go through and dissect every word of that vision statement and talk about risk, how that kind of welcome is an adventure, a journey, and especially a leap into unknown, risky places. I love the idea of faith as an adventure. So when I arrived, they were on the cusp of becoming a reconciling-in-Christ church, which means we openly affirm LBGTQ+. So we became that in February 2020. We’re an open and affirming church, extending God’s radical love to everybody.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PL: As a theologian of the cross, I say the strangest place we find God is on the cross. It’s like having a picture of an electric chair on our walls. Those first-century Christians were not surprised by the cross; it was an instrument of torture and of an empire seeking to control and manipulate. So for God to show up on the cross is crazy. It’s become so ubiquitous and part of our culture and heritage that we don’t think twice about it, but it is the strangest place to find God.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PL: I’m not going to come down on the side of absolute certainty in this question. The best I can do is be humble and I say that I certainly believe that in death we become united with God, at home, nestled into the bosom of God. I have no idea what that looks like but I do know what it is to accompany people whose loved ones are dying. In that space of grief and uncertainty, the best thing I can do is lean on the promises of God. “I don’t know where this is going,” I might say, “but the promise of God is one of unity, a kind of beautiful homecoming with God.” The one thing I know about God on the cross is that he is desperate for us. I think God’s desperation for us is greater than our rejection of God. So am I a universalist? I don’t know. But I will say that I think God’s love and desperation for us is so much wider and more magnificent than we can even begin to imagine.

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Marcus Lohrmann
Marcus Lohrmann

Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church

  • Contact: 10842 Fury Lane, La Mesa 619-670-7656 www.svlc.org
  • Membership: 200
  • Pastor: Marcus Lohrmann 
  • Age: 33
  • Born: Walla Walla, WA
  • Formation: Valparaiso University, IN; University of Chicago Divinity School; Lutheran Seminary, Chicago.
  • Years Ordained: 4

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Marcus Lohrmann: The desperation of God’s longing for us and to liberate us in love. God moves towards all of creation and I would call that a desperate ache and hope that God has for us. There is this idea that God is a policeman, a moralistic jail keeper. I’m not convinced that that’s who God is. You don’t see that in the story of the cross and the story of Jesus. In the gospels, we’re constantly seeing the story of God moving closer to us. That to me feels pretty countercultural. So in my preaching, I always try to bring hope for the life of God that I see in scripture, the one who is confidently doing everything for us to draw us into life in abundance.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PL: I hang my hat on Shepherd of the Valley’s official vision statement: “Extending God’s welcome to all we meet along the way.” What attracted me to this church was the fact that they go through and dissect every word of that vision statement and talk about risk, how that kind of welcome is an adventure, a journey, and especially a leap into unknown, risky places. I love the idea of faith as an adventure. So when I arrived, they were on the cusp of becoming a reconciling-in-Christ church, which means we openly affirm LBGTQ+. So we became that in February 2020. We’re an open and affirming church, extending God’s radical love to everybody.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PL: As a theologian of the cross, I say the strangest place we find God is on the cross. It’s like having a picture of an electric chair on our walls. Those first-century Christians were not surprised by the cross; it was an instrument of torture and of an empire seeking to control and manipulate. So for God to show up on the cross is crazy. It’s become so ubiquitous and part of our culture and heritage that we don’t think twice about it, but it is the strangest place to find God.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PL: I’m not going to come down on the side of absolute certainty in this question. The best I can do is be humble and I say that I certainly believe that in death we become united with God, at home, nestled into the bosom of God. I have no idea what that looks like but I do know what it is to accompany people whose loved ones are dying. In that space of grief and uncertainty, the best thing I can do is lean on the promises of God. “I don’t know where this is going,” I might say, “but the promise of God is one of unity, a kind of beautiful homecoming with God.” The one thing I know about God on the cross is that he is desperate for us. I think God’s desperation for us is greater than our rejection of God. So am I a universalist? I don’t know. But I will say that I think God’s love and desperation for us is so much wider and more magnificent than we can even begin to imagine.

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