Vail Daily letter: Church celebrates 125th birthday | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Church celebrates 125th birthday

What do you give a church for its 125th birthday? What about some new paint? This October, First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Gypsum is getting scrapped and remolded, caulked and painted. There are many old nails that need to be replaced, wood that needs strengthening and cracks that need to be filled.

One hundred twenty-five years ago a small group of ranchers in the valley decided to start a church in a place that wasn’t even a town. They brought the rocks for foundation, hauled the lumber, they gave the money for the building ($690.13, paid in full). They offered the building to the community. Early in their life together they stated “said church shall be open — when we don’t overfill it ourselves.”

First Lutheran was built as a sign of home for a displaced people in a strange new land. They built a building in hope of being a place to honor the God who gave them life, knew them, and loved them. They built it as a place to gather with others. They built it to give them a place to be home, accepted and free. What did they expect when they named it “First Lutheran”? Did they expect a second and a third and a fourth to follow? They could not have imagined what Gypsum would be like 125 years later, but they did imagine faith at the center of life and community.

So, today, a small congregation of teachers and workers of all kinds, skiers and boarders as well as ranchers decide to give an old building a new paint job — what do we imagine?

• This is a place of sanctuary: A place to be home, to be welcomed, to be quiet, to breathe in beauty and to rest in trust.

• This is a place of soul: A place to remember we are beloved of God, that life is greater than what we now know. It is a place to see life anew with different eyes. It is a place to be renewed.

• This is a place of community: A place to join with others different from us, to learn to love and be encouraged in faith and love.

• This is a place of song: A place to sing our praises and give words to our longings and our thanks.

• This is a place that calls out servants: A place that claims us as God’s people who follow Jesus, to look outside of ourselves, to see and love our neighbors.

This October, First Lutheran celebrates being here in this place. We have a reason to be here. Our mission is “Following Christ. Welcoming. Serving.” We want to offer this place to the community for small concerts and plays and meetings as well as worship.

So new paint speaks of new life! We are always being made new in the grace of a loving God. Happy birthday, First Lutheran! All are welcome to the party on Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

Kari Reiquam

Pastor, First Evangelical Lutheran Church