Vista La Mesa Christian Church
Contact: 4210 Massachusetts Ave., La Mesa 619-463-9909 www.vlmcc.org
Pastor: Rebecca Littlejohn
Born: Peoria, IL
Formation: Carleton College, Northfield, MN; Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley
Years Ordained: 17
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Rebecca Littlejohn: There is only one thing worth saying all the time. For me, each one of my sermons will often have two points – God loves you very much and God loves everyone else very much. If you love God, you have to love what God loves and live your life that way. It’s a multidirectional love. If we say we love God, we are called to love what God loves actively. We can’t simply say we do this, but must live it in our lives.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PL: We recently finished a mural on the retaining wall behind our parking lot. The slogan on the mural is “Celebrating the unity and diversity of the body of Christ.” We had a seminary intern this last year and the mural was his spring project. He did interviews and surveyed the congregation to find out what needed to be represented in the mural. Somehow we managed to put all of that together and get it up on the wall, and had a professional muralist help us. But we did a lot of the painting ourselves.
SDR: What book has had the greatest influence on your formation as a pastor?
PL: Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros. The book is a collection of short stories. I think in some unusual ways, it helped me cement my attachment to alternate images for God. It helped me explore the image of the abuelita or grandmother god. One part of my calling is helping people accept Christianity. Many reject it because they have a particular idea of what it is, but that idea doesn’t have to be what Christianity is. I like to introduce other ways of following Jesus. Half of what people say they hate about what they think Christianity is happen to be things that I hate too. Yet here I am, being a pastor. No one in this church is going to force that down your throat. Most of us here don’t buy that line either.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PL: I am a hopeful agnostic on that question. I believe God is good and we are all held by God. There are many people for whom the idea that they will see their loved ones after death is extremely comforting. I am comfortable talking about that authentically in a worship service. I don’t necessarily literally believe that is going to happen the way we picture it, but firmly I believe it’s going to be OK. And that’s what matters. I’m not afraid of death.
SDR: What happens to people who reject God?
PL: When you look at the levels of injustice, hatred, greed and corruption in the world, it’s hard to admit that people who do such things at some level and in some way are beloved children of God and can be redeemed. I don’t think that death is so final that redemption can’t happen after death, but the phrase “special place in hell” is satisfying for us. It’s a temptation, though; it’s not a holy thing to think that. I don’t really believe in hell and sometimes I wish I did.