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Wednesday Words - September 9, 2015

Thought of the Day:

But who do you say that I am? ~ Mark 8:29
 
I am enjoying meeting and greeting many of you. I am learning about where you live, about your jobs, your family, your hobbies, and more. This is a time of making connections and a time of getting a sense of who you are as I learn about your context. When we learn about each other there are insights to be gained, but there are limits to how much we can know about another person. We can never perfectly know another because we have not walked in their shoes and have not experienced the same moments another has experienced. Even two people who have lived together a long time and have a great relationship will find there are surprises in the other and still new insights to be gained. I think the best part of living in community is the ongoing surprises and insights that we can discover about each other.
 
In this week’s scripture lesson from Mark we hear about Jesus and the disciples’ continuing to development their relationship with each other. Jesus is curious about what people are saying about him. Jesus also asks the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”
 
This is a questions for all of us. What would you say to some who asked you, “Who is Jesus Christ?” and “Why do you follow him?”  As with relationships in our lives, our understanding of Jesus changes as we experience life in different ways. Our faith is strengthened and grows when we are engaged in community and we are in conversation learning and sharing our faith.
 
Fall is a great time to get back to participating in our wonderful Bethany community. I would like to encourage you to come and join us this Sunday for Rally Day and bring a friend. All are welcome! The theme is “We are a Colorful Bunch.” You are encouraged to wear your favorite primary color.
 
Sunday will also be Ruth Ann Poppen, our new Director of Worship’s first day. We will officially install her on Sunday, September 20.
 
Peace and blessings to you,
Pastor Cathy

Wednesday Words - September 2, 2015

Thought For the Day: 

They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. ~Mark 7:32

From this Sunday's Gospel reading we hear about two people that are healed, the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman and the deaf man who has a speech impediment. The two people that are healed are not the ones who ask for help from Jesus alone but are supported by their family and friends. The demon is released from the daughter after her mother asks Jesus for help on her daughter's behalf. The deaf man is brought to Jesus by his friends who beg for his help and healing. In these two stories it is not the faith of those who need help that brings about their healing but the active faith of their friends and family. This is a reminder for us to help, care, and pray for those who are struggling. 

We need each other! It has always bothered me when some people decide not to come to church when things are not going well in their lives and later come when things are better. My hope is that church is the first place people go when life is not going well. My prayer for you, those yet to come, and those we serve is that church is a place where we can let our hair down, a place where we think about going when life is bumpy, and a place where we know that we will be held up in time of need. Our faith community is important and it has the ability to hold others up so they do not fall. It has the ability to believe in Jesus when others cannot. It has the ability to speak on behalf of others who cannot speak for themselves. 

My family and I have felt your hands holding us up in the midst of much transition. We are more than grateful for your care and support. I thank God for this faithful community and encourage you to keep sharing that support, hospitality, and welcome to everyone that comes through the doors of Bethany Lutheran Church. 

In Christ's Peace,
Pastor Cathy

 

Wednesday Words - August 26, 2015

Thought For the Day

Being the father of a four month old baby has given me a new perspective on the importance of washing one’s hands.  Isaac, like most little babies, likes to chew on things, and one of his favorite things to chew on is fingers. It’s not just his own fingers that he finds irresistible, he is constantly reaching for the hands of whoever might be holding him at the moment - hoping to find a knuckle or two to chomp on. 

These days, I find myself scrubbing my digits a lot more often than I did in my pre-father stage of life. I’m finding there are a lot of unwritten rules that require a higher level of diligence when it comes to keeping things clean and sanitized for the sake of a baby.
But of course, rules of cleanliness and hygiene aren’t new the 21st century. They have been around for a long while.  

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees and other teachers of Jewish law had strict practices about specifically how to wash one’s hands before eating.  For them, cleanliness was a sign of holiness.  It was an outward way to show how perfect one was in the ways of the law.    

And so when the Pharisees caught Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands properly beforehand, they thought they had caught him in a moment of un-holiness.  So they ask Jesus “Why do your disciples eat with defiled hands?”  Jesus responded, “There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” He tells us that what makes a person unholy are the evil intentions that come from within – what makes a person unholy is sin.

The good news, is that through baptism, Christ dwells within us.   Our sinful selves have been put to death!  So my prayer for you this week, is that what pours out of you, and this congregation is the Word of God, and the Word of Life.  Thanks be to God.  

Amen. 

Pr. Paul

Wednesday Words – July 1, 2015

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Corinthians 1:4)

In my last Wednesday Words I just want to say that I give thanks for you because of the grace you have received in Jesus Christ. Cathy and I have been blessed to be among you.

As I mentioned Sunday this is my 40th year of ministry and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to share this last year with you. You are a congregation that serves as an example to others in the way that you care for each other, as you care for the community and as you care for the people of the world.

I am also thankful for you because of the great leadership that you have in your staff,  in your council, and in your committees. I give thanks for the many volunteers that make such a difference in all of the tasks that are accomplished daily, weekly, and monthly. You are abundantly blessed with resources that are willingly and joyfully shared for the purpose of God’s work in the world.

Finally, I want to thank you for your expressions of gratitude for my ministry among you. I have had the opportunity to walk with you in times of anxiety, joy and sorrow. Now we are at the end of another transition and as you begin a new transition please trust that God leads the way and will provide the opportunities to Reflect Christ in Message and Actions.

Pr. Len

Pr. Len Hoffmann

 

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

 

 

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