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Wednesday Words, November 13, 2019

Wednesday Words – Endurance

November 13, 2019

Pr. Paul Cannon

But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

- Luke 21:18-19

I’ve nearly broken my neck on about five separate occasions this week. The snow accumulates on the bottom of my boots, and when I walk in to our three-season porch, I may as well be on an ice rink. And that doesn’t include the slips from the ice that has formed on our garage floor, the driving hazards, and all the other unforeseen challenges that winter brings.

Except it’s not even winter yet! Aren’t we still in fall? I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had with people who have expressed the same sentiment: It’s going to be a long winter… and I’m already sick of it. Considering that it started in October this year, I have to agree.

As Midwesterners, we pride ourselves on being tough. We’ve seen our fair share of winters and we’re no strangers to the cold. But the prospect of a longer than usual winter is daunting – exhausting even. We know what’s coming and we can (and will) endure it – it’s just a matter of preparing our hearts and minds for the prospect of it.

That’s the message that Jesus has for you today as well. Struggles are ahead. Jesus confirms it.

But amidst it all, “not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

The text on Sunday is bleak. There will be famine and war and earthquakes - plagues, persecutions and prisons. It’s not prophesy; it’s inevitability. Like winter, sometimes you need to prepare your hearts and minds for the prospect of it.

It’s a counter-cultural narrative, when you think about it. Usually, when somebody’s trying to sell you something, they assure you that their product is going relieve all your worldly woes. Buy this product … follow these ten steps … all your worries will fade away (for the low, low price of … ).

But Jesus is different. Jesus isn’t trying to sell you anything. Jesus doesn’t deny that bad things are coming. He just gives you a way to endure it. Faith isn’t meant to take away your problems (regardless of what prosperity gospel preachers will tell you), faith is how you endure them.

With faith, your problems might not get any easier, but your ability to handle them grows. And while faith won’t wish away the snow, it might give you the strength to make it through the win

Wednesday Words, November 6, 2019

Wednesday Words

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

“But we must always give thanks to God for you, brother and sisters beloved by the Lord…” – 2 Thessalonians 2:13

My sister-in-law, Deb, enjoys the fall. She likes the changing leaves and hikes, but especially family at this time of year. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. She loves it so much more than Christmas, because Thanksgiving is simply about gathering as a family, eating a meal together, and saying thank you. Deb is a person who lives out her life and faith in gratitude and generosity. She finds joy in caring for others and the needs in her community. She lives her life humbly but with a big heart for her family, church, and community. Deb is inspiring as she is all IN in living out her faith in thankfulness. I thank God for Deb! 

As Deb is inspired by simply sharing a meal together on Thanksgiving, I am inspired in the same way on Sunday morning when we break bread together. I see the work of God in Bethany Lutheran Church for which I am grateful. I couldn’t help but think on Sunday, as we gathered for All Saints Day with a very full church, about what a wonderful family we have at Bethany and how we are better together in Christ. I am grateful for the many ministries of Bethany, and I am especially grateful when we come together in faith on Sunday mornings to worship together and share the meal of communion. I would like to encourage you to come to worship in November to thank God for all you have been giving, to lean on our church family for strength and courage in difficult times, and to simply “be you” in this family of Christ.  

I also want to take a moment to thank you for your time and resources. Your acts of gratitude and generosity are inspiring to me and make it possible for us to do many ministries that support you, our church, and the community.

If you have not gotten a chance yet to fill out a God’s Work. Our Hands. Form (volunteer opportunity) or an Estimate of Giving Form (financial opportunity) I would like to encourage you to prayerfully consider where God is calling you. Here’s an online link for filling out your Estimate of Giving Form and a God’s Work. Our Hands. Form that you can print out:

 Online Estimate of Giving Submission hereHere’s a pdf. of the God’s Work Our Hands Form 

We are looking for 100% participation. Even just signing your name is saying that you are IN. You being IN as a member of Bethany’s Family and that is important too.

I thank God for you and always look forward to seeing you at church.

In Gratitude,

Pr. Cathy

Wednesday Words, Oct. 30, 2019

Wednesday Words – All Saints Day

October 30, 2019

Pr. Paul Cannon

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.

- Ephesians 1:18

There is a modern notion that hope is a weak thing. You’ve heard the expression, “A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.” The lesson? Don’t hope for what you can’t see.

A more direct way to say it came from the famous German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche who said, “Hope is in reality the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torment of man.”

Perhaps in different contexts, you could find wisdom in both sayings. But a world where people abandon hope, seems like a bleak and sad world to live in.

That’s why, in the Christian context, we speak of hope in two ways: hope for the earth, and the ultimate hope of salvation. Those two things are what we celebrate on All Saints Day.

Ultimate hope, and earthly hope almost seem contradictory – even some Christians feel this way. I’ve known of Christians who claim they don’t need to recycle, in part because of their faith in the ultimate hope of the resurrection (and probably a healthy dose of laziness, if we’re being honest). Who needs to take care of the earth when God going to create a new one anyway?

However, a resurrection hope is empty if it doesn’t offer relief to earthly suffering. Yes, the hope we have in Jesus is an ultimate hope that one day we will all be reunited with loved ones. But Jesus’ life and ministry was also about bringing his Kingdom to earth – the hope of bringing God’s justice, peace, and love into the world (not to take you out of it!).

In a truly Lutheran fashion, our hope is BOTH/AND. On All Saints Day, we proclaim God’s hope is something that we strive to bring to earth, and is something that is fully realized when we pass on to be with all the saints in heaven.

Wednesday Words, Oct. 23, 2019

Stewardship Moment - Karla Malpica - INspired!

This Tuesday as I walked into our church council meeting Pastor Cathy asked me if I had my speech ready. I have to be honest; I hadn’t even started. I wasn’t sure the real way I became inspired to create a new group at Bethany was what they had in mind when they asked me to speak today.

Then I looked at our stewardship brochure, and under God Inspires us it says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Fear can be a weird motivator. When I found myself realizing that my passion of Theater becoming a full-time career was in direct conflict with my #1 rule of always being there for my friends and family I was scared. Scared the depression I had fallen into would get worse and never go away. I was feeling completely lost and knew my current job was not the answer, so I started to look elsewhere.

The political climate had changed and rights I believed in were being called into question and I started looking into things like women’s rights, climate change, immigration, LGBTQ rights and so much more. While it did start a fire in me the biggest result was a feeling of being extremely overwhelmed. How was little old me supposed to make any difference in such huge complicated issues? Where would I start? Was I the only one feeling this way?

Then on the first Thursday of the month I headed to Theology on Tap. And, while if you’ve ever gone you know we have a hard time staying on topic, this time we did talk about the question of if and how congregations should be involved in political matters. As the night went on, I become truly inspired. Inspired by the community around me, how much they cared, their suggestions on how Bethany could be involved, and what actions we could take.

The final push came when Secretary Boerger issued us a challenge in his sermon during one of the Wednesday chapel services at the churchwide offices. He told us to do that thing you have been waiting or scared to do, volunteer for that organization, start that new group at your church. He had us write our action down on a post it and stick up on the wall of the chapel. They would stay there as a reminder of our challenge.

And so, I started the group Thoughts, Prayers, Action. A group that while we do talk about issues that can be extremely overwhelming, I come out of every meeting inspired. Inspired by the commitment of our community to not just hear or read the gospel, but to live it out.

So, as we hand in our stewardship cards, I INvite you to the same challenge issued to me. Volunteer for the church ministry you have been thinking about; help out at that event you love going to every year; come to one of our Thoughts, Prayers, Action meetings. Because I have a feeling the more INvolved and INvested your become, the more INspired you will be by the mission of our Bethany community.

Are you IN Bethany Lutheran Church? We’re looking for 100% participation in filling out your God’s Work. Our Hands forms. Even just signing your name and handing in your form is saying that you are IN. You are IN as a member of our congregation. God might also be calling you in new ways this year. Please take time to fill out your form. The form includes your Estimate of Giving Card (financial offering) and Gods Work. Our Hands. (volunteer opportunities). We are asking each member to complete both.  If you would like you can fill out the

 Online Estimate of Giving Submission here. Here’s a pdf. of the God’s Work Our Hands Form 

Wednesday Words, Oct. 16, 2019

October 13, 2019 Stewardship Talk

TOM:

Good morning

As part of this year’s Stewardship Campaign, Pastor Cathy invited us to speak on WHY and HOW we are invested in Bethany Lutheran Church.

SUE:

As to WHY

We believe our talents and treasures are given to us by God. Not just for our benefit, but to share with others. We’ve all worked hard in life to get where we are. We haven’t done it alone. We’ve all received help from others along the way, and especially from God. He has given us good health, among other blessings.

Investing in Bethany is one way to give back, and thank God.

Stewardship is a way to live the belief that ALL we have, and ALL we are, comes from and belongs to God.

We are also invested in Bethany because this congregation is like family to us.

The people here support and care about each other and share life’s ups and downs. Together, we pray and sing, laugh and cry, work and play… and hope.

There’s a lot of smiling, hugging, kind words, and handshaking going on here. We always leave church feeling better than when we came.

We share this wonderful Christian faith with which we are blessed.

And through it all, God is with us.

We are blessed to have pastors who challenge and encourage, and remind us to interact with the world in the context of our Christian faith… and to do so every day, not just on Sunday.

TOM:

As to HOW Sue and I invest in Bethany…

It is by sharing our time, talents, and treasure. (I’m a little short on talent, but Sue more than makes up for that with hers.)

Specifically, both of us serve as

Ushers Greeters Evangelism Committee members Earthkeepers

Faithful Stewards and Pancake Preparers at the Johnny Appleseed breakfast.

Sue is also a reader, gives blood at the Blood Drive, is on the Stewardship Committee, and assists with Publicity for Bethany.

I am also a Church Council member, and a member of the Bethany Arts Series Committee.

There are many ways to give back and invest in Bethany. Please review the white volunteer opportunity sheet included in your Stewardship Brochure. And then indicate your areas of interest. You will meet some wonderful people as a Bethany volunteer, and you will experience what Jesus meant when he said, “It is in giving that you will receive.”

The white volunteer sheet also has a financial portion where you should indicate the amount you wish to give to Bethany, and whether you will donate electronically.

Sue and I also give to Bethany monetarily – by using the electronic Simply Giving option. In this way, our contribution is automatically deducted from our bank account, without the bother of writing checks. You can also modify the amount you give at any time, by contacting the church office.

Each Sunday, here at Bethany, we are reassured that our sins are forgiven, that God always loves us as we are, and that we are all welcome here. And, we share the love and support of this wonderful church family of ours.

Sue and I are very grateful for Bethany Lutheran Church… so, we invest!

Thank You All Very Much!

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