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Wednesday Words, November 27, 2019

Wednesday Words

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

Advent is a season of waiting, but is idle waiting what God wants of us? In preparation for the coming Messiah, we wonder together—what things can’t wait? What demands our immediate attention? What requires our work and preparation? What is it that God can’t wait for? Is it our praise, reconciliation, and proclamation? Is it the end of suffering, isolation, and fear? This Advent, we invite you to join us in imagining, prioritizing, and preparing. As we wait, what can’t?

There are many ways in which you can engage at Bethany as we thoughtfully and prayerfully center ourselves in God’s hope, peace, joy and love.

Worshipping together brings us together to lean on each other, center ourselves in Christ, and find strength and courage to face the challenges of our lives and the world. We hope that you will worship with us this Advent on Sundays at 8, 9, & 10:45 am. We also have midweek services on Wednesday, Dec. 4 &11 at 7 pm. In addition, on Wednesday, Dec. 18 we have a Longest Night service for those who find the holidays difficult.

We have daily devotionals that call to our attention ways God can’t wait to create hope, peace, joy, and love. We invite you to carve out time each day to listen to God speaking to you through art, poetry, silent reflection, and prayer. Devotionals are printed and ready to take home at the entrance of our worship space.

Lastly, we have a Sunday Bible Study for you each week to think about the text that will be used on Sunday mornings.

We hope that this Advent you will take time to breathe and center yourself in God’s hope, peace, joy, and love. Our prayer for you is that through worshiping together and daily devotionals that you find the gift of rest and renewal.

First Week of Advent  GOD’S PROMISED DAY (hope) CAN’T WAIT

KEY SCRIPTURES FOR THIS SUNDAY, DEC. 1 - Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 12

These texts speak of God’s promised day—a day when wars end, swords are beaten into plowshares, and spears become pruning hooks. On the first Sunday in Advent, we focus on the need to hold onto hope, to continue dreaming of and reaching for God’s promised day where there will be peace and all will know love. How does unrelenting hope change us? How does it change our world?

GUIDING QUESTIONS

• Read Isaiah 1:21-31; 2:5-22. How do these oracles of judgment inform your reading of Isaiah’s

vision of promise in Isaiah 2:1-5? What is the relationship between hope and despair—in these

passages and in our own lives?

• Walter Brueggemann says of this passage from Isaiah, “That is, it is a vision, an act of imagination that looks beyond present dismay through the eyes of God, to see what will be that is not yet. That is the function of promise (and therefore of Advent) in the life of faith. Under promise, in Advent, faith sees what will be that is not yet.” At this moment in time, what present dismay is blurring your vision? How is the Church looking beyond dismay to live into the “not yet”?

• Isaiah envisions a world where warring nations convert their weapons into tools for flourishing. How might we live into this vision today? What are concrete examples of beating swords into plowshares?

• How do we receive the words of Psalm 122 in light of current events such as: the burning down of the Notre Dame cathedral, or the Christchurch, NZ, mosque shootings? How might this psalm become a prayer for hope in places where peace is missing?

Wednesday Words, November 20, 2019

Wednesday Words – This is the King

November 20, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

- Luke 23:38

Briefly, close your eyes and picture a king. In your minds’ eye, what does the king wear? Is the king wearing a royal robe? Is there a crown resting on the king’s head? Where does the king sit? Is there a throne adorned with pillows? Where does the king live? Is there a castle high on a hilltop, named something regal like Dover, or Windsor, or Buckingham? Who is the king surrounded by? Royal advisors? Armored knights? The rich and powerful?

This coming Sunday is a little-known church festival: Christ the King (perhaps you know it if you are a lifelong member, or church-nerd, but most people probably know very little). It’s a day where we recognize the Kingship of Jesus with brass and alleluias and fanfare worthy of a King.

However, that fanfare stands in stark contrast to the Gospel reading for the day. Jesus, King of the Jews, was the proclamation, but the setting was anything but royal. Surrounded by criminals being executed by the state; on a hilltop named the Skull; on a splintered cross for a throne with nails as the only thing to lean on; wearing a crown of thorns; stripped bare, beaten and mocked.

This is the King of the Jews.

Jesus was not the expected triumphant King that was hoped for - somebody to lead the people out of the clutches of a corrupt and all-powerful empire. Instead, we get the King on the cross – a willing victim of that empire, publicly executed as a warning to would-be dissenters.

To a first century Roman citizen, it must have seemed like a kind of cosmic joke that anybody would follow such a man, let alone call him King. The author of our Gospel recognizes the irony. Jesus, mocked and crucified for that title, becomes a King for all people through his means of execution.

You can see why the apostle Paul would write in his letter to the Corinthians, “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” For those who put him there, the cross was intended to proclaim Christ a criminal; for us who follow Jesus, the cross proclaims Christ a King!

As evidenced by the cross, Jesus is a different kind of King, but maybe the only kind worth following. Join us, as we celebrate the King on Sunday.

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.

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