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Wednesday Words – June 24, 2015

Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. (2 Cor. 8:7)

In my second to last Wednesday Words I could not pass up the opportunity to lift up St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians regarding their participation in the offering that was being taken for the saints in Jerusalem.

The Corinthian congregation is similar in many respects to many current day congregations. They are located in a cosmopolitan city. It was a hustling, bustling area of trade and business. The community was made up of educated people many of whom achieved the highest level of competence in their chosen fields.

Most of the members of the congregation were affluent, but like today affluence often creates division in communities and congregations. Paul calls attention to this in his discussion of their communion practices in his first letter to them.

In this letter (particularly in chapters 8 and 9) Paul calls upon the whole community to share from their affluence and abundance for the sake of the whole church. He acknowledges how they excel in faith, speech, knowledge and eagerness. Now he exhorts them to excel also “in this generous undertaking.” He urges them to reflect on their abundance in relationship to their neighbors need.

 I invite you to continue to do the same as you lead the way in areas of outreach to the community and the world. Our mission support leads the way with a minimum of 18% of our giving being shared with ministries beyond ourselves. 

We seek to lead the way in providing generous salaries and benefits for our ordained leaders and competitive salaries and retirement contributions, disability, and life insurance for our lay staff.

We strive to maintain and take care of our property and support the resources needed to do ministry with children, youth and adults. We continue to reach out to invite others to join us in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Please keep on keeping on in the eagerness with which you began this ministry. All gifts are important so that we may continue to excel in everything “Reflecting Christ in Message and Actions.”

Pr. Len

 

 

Wednesday Words – June 17, 2015

You stilled the storm and silenced the waves of the sea. (Ps. 107:29)

When I lived in Wisconsin, our family decided to rent a pontoon boat and go for a leisurely boat ride on the lake. Everything was going fine when all of a sudden a dark bank of clouds began to roll in over the whole lake.

We were about 20 minutes from the dock and we began to go full throttle (5-7 miles per hour) toward our launching site. The clouds became more ominous and the winds began to pick up. Then the rain came harder and harder. We were chugging toward the dock. Little did we know at the time that one of the pontoons was taking on water and we were sinking slightly..

The boat owners were anxiously awaiting our return. I suspected that they were more concerned about their boat being returned than about our safety, but it could have been some of both. Fortunately, we made it back safely with no real damage.

This is just a small example of how the storms of life can blow up quickly in our lives. Sometimes they are explosive having festered for a long period of time. Sometimes storms come literally out of the blue with the suddenness of illness or death. 

Our Psalmist today points to a God who stills the storms and silences the waves. A God – our God – who steps into the midst of the sea and says, “Be still and know that I am God.” We have a loving and caring God who in Jesus Christ lived out the promises of the Psalmist by stilling the sea and calming the storm. 

This Jesus comes again and again into the darkness and storminess of our lives bringing calm and peace. He calls upon us to trust in his power and not our own. He invites us to place our confidence in his loving care and his power to still the storms of our lives.

 

Pr. Len

 

 

Wednesday Words – June 3, 2015

Wait for the Lord, for with the Lord there is steadfast love. (Ps. 130:7)

In the film “Rudy” the main character is seeking entrance to Notre Dame University from Holy Cross College. His mentor is an older priest who sees Rudy sitting in the chapel. He asked Rudy how things are going and Rudy confides that he wonders if he has done enough or prayed hard enough to have his prayers to enter Notre Dame answered. The wise priest replies, “I sure that (praying hard enough) is not the problem, because prayer is something that we do in our time, and answers (to prayer) come in God’s time.”

This must be what the Psalmist has in mind as we are invited to “wait for the Lord”. 

Waiting is not something that we do very well, especially in our culture today. We now expect instant responses, whether is “fast” food; on-line orders delivered the next day (or better yet the same day.)

We desire instant success, instant fame, instant wealth, instant love, instant pretty much everything. We even want instant cures and we become impatient when diagnoses or treatments come too slowly or do not work quickly enough, or at all.

We want pastors to be replaced the day after one pastor leaves and no matter how quickly a call process goes, it never is quickly enough. However, as we have seen in our call process here at Bethany the Spirit works in marvelous ways bringing together a candidate and a congregation. I was reviewing Pr. Daharsh’s Rostered Leader Profile (RLP) and it was not even posted to the synods of her choice until February 4, 2015. We would not even known of her search for a call before our call committee was ready to be reviewing candidates and the synod was ready to identify candidates.

Our Psalmist reminds us then to wait for the Lord knowing that as we wait for God’s response to prayer, and as we wait for God’s action we trust that God has already acted as God has promised, because God’s love is steadfast. We count on it.

 

Pr. Len

Wednesday Words – May 27, 2015

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Ps.  29:2)

We worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament. This is one of the guiding principles we adopted at our congregational meeting this past January. It lifts up well the theme of this Sunday – The Festival of the Holy Trinity.

Our creeds proclaim the One God in Three-Persons. We believe in this one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We celebrate the Trinity in Unity (three persons) and the Unity of the Trinity (one God).

The key part of our Guiding Principle and the Psalm for today is that we “Worship.” The Trinity is not just an intellectual statement, but it names the God who we worship. A God who invites our worship and praise, and who in the midst of our worship and praise comes again and again into our lives as individuals and as a community of faith.  

In Baptism we are united with God and God with us. In Holy Communion we are strengthened in faith and life. Through the Word of God we are connected to God’s promises of faithfulness.

Our worship includes music. It always has. The Psalms are the ancient hymn book of the Jewish people. We see in story after Biblical story how the people of God sing praise and thanksgiving. 

So, it is fitting that on this Holy Trinity Sunday we acknowledge and give thanks to all our directors, choirs, and musicians for enhancing our worship, as we bring praise to the Holy Trinity. We extend a special thanks for the leadership of Allison Boccia Williams, who has served our congregation in music ministry for the past 19 years. We bid her Farewell and Godspeed.

So, please join together and sing Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty so that early in the morning our song will rise to God!

 

Pr. Len

Wednesday Words – May 20, 2015

Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. (Ps. 104:30)

Sunday is the Festival of Pentecost. Originally a Jewish festival of thanksgiving for God’s gift of the Law to God’s people at Sinai; it became for the Christian community the occasion for the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the day we celebrate as Christ’s people who are called together in baptism to be created and re-created in relationship to God, to one another and to all creation.

The Spirit (the breath of God creating order out of chaos and bringing life to humankind) connects us to this creative love and gives us life in the here and now. God continues to breathe life into the world. We witness this creative activity in nature and in human ingenuity and innovation. The breath of God inspires (breathes into us) the power to love and serve our neighbor, and to care for God’s world.

This weekend is also Memorial Day Weekend where we remember those who have served our nation and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave up their breath so that others might breathe free.

The Holy Spirit’s gift of life and new creation is coming among us as we ready ourselves to call a new pastoral leader. A leader who has been called by the Holy Spirit to a positon of public leadership in Christ’s church and a leader who has been lifted up by the Holy Spirit through the congregation council to the people of God in this place.

The Spirit is blowing to bring creation and re-creation among us as we choose this leader through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to equip and lead the people of God in this place so that we might reflect Christ in message and actions in our daily life.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

 

Pr. Len

 

 

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