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Wednesday Words, July 10, 2019

Wednesday Words – Caring for Creation

July 10, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

Communion with Creation

On the Fourth of July, I found myself enjoying the spectacle of the fireworks with a small group of people gathered near me. Isaac had abandoned me, because although he was loving the fireworks display, he had found a friend to play with, making me yesterday’s news (does he already know how uncool I am?).

During all this, I turned to my phone, wanting to inform Kirstin (who was at home with Elin) that our four-year-old son is already acting like a teenager, when I realized that I was missing out on the awesome show while gluing myself into the phone. Putting it away in my pocket, I looked up, and realized half the people there were also on their phones, missing out on the dazzling explosions lighting up a perfect night sky.

That’s the life of a busy suburbanite. So distracted that we don’t pause to look.

That’s why starting on Sunday, we’ll be giving you a challenge: stop to watch the show going on all around you. Only this time, it’s not fireworks, it’s God’s creation.

Communion with Creation will be our summer theme as we head into the time of year where many of you will be traveling to various places across the country and the globe, taking in the sights that God has afforded each one of us.

You’ll be busy. We get it! There are places to go and people to see. BUT, we will be asking you to stop and take time to smell the roses (maybe metaphorically … maybe literally!). We want you to notice God’s incredible creation, maybe take a picture of it (according to the Communion with Creation Calendar) and post it to our Facebook page.

Yes, we’re busy, but we are never too busy to notice what God has done for us.

Take the challenge and see the graces that are all around us!

Communion with Creation Calendar

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Click here for the Communion with Creation Calendar
https://unite-production.s3.amazonaws.com/tenants/bethanylutheranchurch/attachments/200770/communion_with_creation_calendar.pdf

Wednesday Words, July 3, 2019

Wednesday Words

July 7, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

Star Spangled Cosmic Christmas

The book of Ecclesiastes says, “There is nothing new under the sun” (1:9) but this upcoming Sunday at Bethany Lutheran Church might challenge that idea. We’re calling it the Star Spangled Cosmic Christmas. If that’s not new, I don’t know what is.

What is the Star Spangled Cosmic Christmas exactly? It’s what you get when on one Sunday morning you cross the Fourth of July, with Christmas in July, with Mission to Mars themed Vacation Bible School. It sounds like the start of a ‘dad joke’ (what do you get when you cross …) but it is, in fact, what is going on this Sunday.

We’ll be celebrating Independence Day with a special Fourth of July Hymn-sing before the service. Then you’ll be treated to our Christmas in July Service in worship, to be followed by fellowship in our Luther Hall Space Command Center, set up for Vacation Bible School. I’m exhausted thinking about it.

Good thing Jesus doesn’t shy away from the chaos of our lives.

When the staff saw all these things converging together on our master calendar, we didn’t shy away either. We embraced it. We made a whole new Sunday out of it because, why not? Life is sometimes that way; when it comes at you from a million different angles, you just roll with it and hope for the best.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s Christmas story, I couldn’t help but notice that Jesus’ birth was a bit of a hot mess itself. Picture it from the perspective of Mary and Joseph. To have the birth of your child come when you’re out of town, traveling for a government census, when there was no room for them in the inn, and to finally have the baby in a manger … that’s the convergence of chaos that Jesus was born into.

God’s work often happens that way. If it’s true that we hear God’s voice in sound of sheer silence (1 Kings 19:12), it’s not because God chooses not to speak in midst of chaos – it’s that he’s working too hard to talk! God is working to bring joy, love and new life in the crazy busyness of life.

Something wonderful is about to happen! Come see what it is on this Star Spangled Cosmic Christmas!

Wednesday Words, June 26, 2019

Wednesday Words - Homeless

June 26, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;

but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.

- Luke 9:58

We take a lot of pride in our home. Currently at the Cannon house, we have large hole in our backyard for our soon-to-be paver patio, which in its current condition is acting more as a seven-inch-deep swimming hole (can we get a couple days of sunshine God!?!).

Even when we don’t have a big project, there’s always something to do; a minor repair that needs to be tinkered with or a new piece of furniture that’s going in. We have cozy beds to sleep on, and a dry basement (that’s a whole other story) for the kids to play. There’s even a spacious fenced-in back yard for our dog Pluto to run laps in.

We love our cozy little home, and it would be hard to give it up. It’s part of the reason Jesus’ words are a bit of a gut-punch, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” This is the text that reminds us: Jesus was homeless.

Jesus was literally homeless – neither was he born, nor did he live, nor did he die in his own home. The only story we have of him as youth, was one he spent running away from home (or at least failing to return to it!).

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Jesus suggests in this passage that if you want to follow him, you’ll have to give up your home; discipleship comes at a cost.

One would-be follower says he wants to follow Jesus, but that he needs to bury his dad first. Jesus tells him “Let the dead bury their own dead.” Another wants to say farewell to those in his home, and Jesus tells him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Harsh!

When you choose to follow Jesus there is no turning back; there are no half-measures. To follow Jesus means that we give up everything!

I wonder what this means for us today. Does it mean I have to give up my paver patio? My fenced-in backyard? My soft cozy bed that I sleep on every night? I think the answer is yes. With prayerful discernment we need to be open to however God calls us to use our resources (time, talents or treasures) and have the faith to not look back.

It’s the least we can do for our homeless king.

Wednesday Words, June 19

Wednesday Words

June 19, 2019

Pr. Paul Cannon

Too Much Learning

“You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!”

Acts 26:24

Isaac is a sponge. He soaks up just about everything he hears and can recall and repeat it (which is why we have to be extra careful with the words we use around him!). He loves reading about dinosaurs, learning about how things get made (thanks Richard Scary), or digging into this National Geographic for Kids magazines. Often, he’ll recite a fact to me about something he’s learned through TV or books that leave Kirstin and I somewhat dumbfounded (and slightly better informed).

At the age of four, I can say with confidence that he just likes to learn. It’s a great quality that we, as a society, love and celebrate at all turns. We hail learning breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology. We marvel when great skyscrapers go up and touch the heavens. We spend vast amounts of money on new gadgets that make our lives easier (those poor cavemen who had to toast their bread over a fire!).

Learning is something that seems to be celebrated in all avenues of life … except when it comes to religion. For some reason religion and learning is taboo for some people. As if all learning about religion stopped 2,000 years ago with Jesus (or maybe just 500 years ago with Martin Luther).

But what if there is still more to learn?

Religion always seems to look backwards. We look at ancient texts and try to discern exactly what Jesus meant when he said, ___________. We study long dead theologians and debate the merits of their long dead arguments.

But at its heart, religion is not about looking backwards, but about looking forwards. It’s like what I always tell Isaac when he’s running down the driveway, “Look in front of you!” Those who run looking backwards tend to scrape their knees.

No. Religion is about building on what we know and understand about God, and applying it in new ways. It strikes me, that in our reading from the book of Acts, Paul is accused of learning too much! The problem with Paul, is not that he knows too much about the Old Testament – there were many Pharisees who could recite the whole thing from memory! The problem with Paul was that he learned to apply God’s love in new ways. Gentiles/Jews, Men/Women, Slaves/Free. Paul determined that God’s love was meant for them all.

Today, we are still learning, and I hope that you can continue learning with us.

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