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Wednesday Words, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Words

Stewardship Moment with Kirstin Cannon

My name is Kirstin Cannon.  I am not the member of my family that prefers to talk in front of many people, so it is a mini miracle that I am up here all in itself.  However, I’m really here to tell you all about the mini miracles I witness each day I come to Bethany. That is the miracle of community.  Our village. All of you.

Since most of our family lives in Minnesota, Bethany has literally become our family.  Our multi-generational family that loves us and our children unconditionally. From the middle school kids willing to chase Isaac around the office loop while I change Elin’s diaper, to all the grandparents who give Isaac hugs and Elin snuggles whenever I’m willing to pull her out of her carrier. I feel like it is a mini miracle that I am able to make it through each service with two kids, luckily there is always someone willing to make silly faces at Isaac when he is feeling ready for the service to be over.

We have seen Isaac blossom in ways that amaze us daily and I think it is in large part due to this community.  He is able to love and socialize with people of all different ages and it has helped him develop in ways we could not have fostered by ourselves. When I brought Isaac to Lutherdale to visit Paul and the kids a few summers ago, he quickly attached himself to Michael Effinger, who was one of the confirmation students at camp. Recently I was talking to Isaac on a Sunday afternoon and mentioned something about longtime Bethany member Mr. Bengston, and he responded, “Sometimes we call him Gene”. If you ask Isaac who his best friend is, about half the time he will respond “Tammy”, as in Tammy Nobbe his Sunday School Teacher.  With the shear mention of Tammy, Isaac’s eyes begin to sparkle. Fellow book lover and Bethany member, Corrine Zoellick is responsible for probably a quarter of the books in our home library and Isaac loves to run up and give her hugs every Sunday. I could keep going for the remainder of the service about all the ways our kids have and will be changed by the people in this community, but again, I’m not the Cannon who likes public speaking.

Our immediate family may live far away, but we are lucky to have family right here at Bethany.

Wednesday Words, October 3, 2018

Wednesday Words

Stewardship Moment with Terry Micklevitz

My name is Terry Micklevitz and I was asked to speak to you in regards to the pledge card, which is available to all of us. It’s very simple to fill out and the choices are the same as what’s on the offering envelopes we all receive.

What the pledge card asks of us is to reach out and commit for the full year rather than just for the current week. The pledge card gives you an opportunity take a closer look at your giving habits and for those who are considering increasing their giving they may find this to be an easier way to evaluate the entire year.

Dian and I have two sons who are grown up now, and in fact it’s fun on their birthdays to let them know they’re catching up to me. They went to Sunday School and were confirmed here when we first joined Bethany; unfortunately, shortly after that we became inactive members. But now we are back and have been active members for about 5 years and have enjoyed becoming involved in numerous activities.

Being inactive from church for a long period of time and then returning causes some realignment of habits, especially Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. Even more important is recommitting our giving to God. We have grown in our giving since our first year back by increasing the amount each year since.

Our first year back was a growing experience in giving and when the pledge card was put in front of us I was a little frustrated and concerned at the same time. We were growing in our giving and I wasn’t sure if we would always maintain that amount. Now I was supposed to firm up a yearly pledge? On top of feeling this way I felt somewhat pressured. I resented the fact that our giving weekly wasn’t enough of a commitment. I felt God wasn’t looking for a yearly commitment, He was okay with whatever we could give currently.

In the coming months the subject came up with another Bethany member and I reiterated my feelings. His feelings were the opposite of mine and I listened to what he had to say.

What he said, in so many words, was that the church is a family just like you and I are. It has financial obligations the same as us. What’s different is we know pretty much what our annual income is going to be but the church really doesn’t know unless we as members pledge.

The church understands there are going to be changes in giving. Things happen in life, such as a job loss, unexpected expenses, etc., but sometimes good things happen and things kind of balance out.

After having that conversation I thought things through and had a better understanding as to why the church was asking for a yearly commitment. Since then we have pledged for the last two years, this will be our third year. Personally it has helped us budget our giving tremendously and with God’s blessing we have been able to increase our giving each of our years back at Bethany.

So in ending I hope you see and understand what we saw. Don’t be hesitant to pledge as it helps Bethany Lutheran Church, our church family, to better serve us and so many others.

Thank you.

 

 

Wednesday Words, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Words - EnoughSeptember 26, 2018
Pastor Paul Cannon

Whoever is not against us, is for us.-Mark 9:40

 

A few weeks ago, I looked nervously at the registration numbers: 22.  Not Good.  We reserved two 56-passenger coach buses for the Lockout, sent out numerous registration reminders, countless emails, and with just 2.5 weeks to go, there were a lot of spots to fill. 

Maybe this was a mistake.  Maybe we’re not big enough to pull off an event like this.  Maybe we just wasted a whole lot of time and energy trying to do something big. 

I’ll admit, that fear was born out of a mentality of scarcity. I mean, we’re not a 5,000 member mega church and we don’t have endless pockets like some congregations.  Maybe families don’t have enough time or energy for youth ministry anymore.  Maybe it’s a simple failure of leadership (gulp)!  Maybe partnering with other churches is a venture doomed to failure!!!

But sometimes, you just have to do the best you can and trust that God is enough. 

Last Friday, when the day of the Lockout came, the buses were literally overflowing.

Humans can be funny sometimes.  We like to look over the fence, just to double check whether the grass is really greener over there (it’s not).  The church is no different.  We always find ourselves comparing our ministries or our attendance or our Sunday School with that of other churches (or even other generations) and make ourselves jealous (or overly prideful) over it. 

In the Gospel reading this week, the disciples came to Jesus to complain because somebody was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and as they told Jesus “he was not following us.”  He’s not part of our group, our people, our congregation.  But Jesus reminds them that God’s Kingdom is bigger than their group.  He tells them, “Whoever is not against us, is for us.” 

God has provided enough ministry opportunity for everybody.  We thank God for all the churches in town, because they are reaching people in different ways, spreading the gospel of God’s love.

And God has indeed given us enough and blessed us to do ministry in the world.  There were over 120 people who came out for the lockout.  There was no need to worry.  God is here, doing great things among us.  And that is enough.

Wednesday Words, September 19, 2018

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” - Philippians 4:6  

Why is it so easy for us to worry? We live in a time when there is an increasing problem of worry. Worry is a powerful force that "messes" with who we are leaving us frustrated, cranky, and confused about life situations. I confess that I have had moments that I have been sick with worry about something in the news, when my children struggle, or when there has been conflict in the church. Worry can take over our whole being, which can literally make physically ill. Paul’s answer to this is very straight forward, “Do not be anxious about anything.”  

Doesn’t it seem, though,  that every time you try to stop worrying you worry all the more? You can’t stop 'worry' just by the exercise of will power. As with most things, it’s not a quick fix.  We learn from Paul in our readings from the book of Philippians that it is like running a race, and in every situation, every worry bring it to God with prayer and petitions. Nothing is too small or big to bring to God.  

The temptation for us is to do more worrying than praying. It takes practice to pray first in the midst of challenges that bring worry. Praying will not solve the problem but continuous prayer I believe does help us to see things differently, to take a breath, and to find footing to carry on and forward with a healthier perspective.  

We are coming to a time in the church that can be a period of worry for me as we talk about the finances and health of the church for next year and finishing out this year. I worry if we will have enough money to pay for what has been budgeted. I worry about not having enough money pledged for next year to do the ministries we are called to and to pay our staff what they deserve. I worry about not having enough money to maintain our building and renovate for the future. Paul’s letter to the Philippians has reminded me to take it to God in prayer so that I am not absorbed by worry and trust that God will provide. It’s a good reminder for all of us. It’s easy to get caught up in worry, but Christ calls us into relationship and trust in him to find peace and focus. 

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. (Phil 4.7)

In Christ's Peace, 

Pr. Cathy

Wednesday Words September 12, 2018

September 12, 2018
Pastor Paul Cannon

Pushing Forward

Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

My wife is a pretty good runner, and from time to time the two of us will go out together for a jog (note: this happened much more frequently before we had two kids!), and I’ll admit, that it’s not always easy for me. Kirstin has a tenacious running style that I had to adjust to when we first started running together. Once when we were still in the newlywed stage, living in our first apartment, we decided to jog over to our local gym to workout together. We both put in a good workout and then jogged back to our place. When we were about a block away, both of us exhausted from lifting, Kirstin kicked it into high gear. Without warning she started sprinting home. Out of pride, I did all I could to keep up with her on my weary, wobbly legs. I felt like I was going to die. Ultimately, she left me in the dust.

Kirstin’s instinct when things get hard is to dig in.  If there is a steep hill to climb, she sprints it.  If at 10pm there is a final load of laundry to do, she folds it.  If there is a test to study for, she studies until she knows it.

It’s one of the things I admire about her the most: a tenacious spirit to push forward when things get tough. 

The Apostle Paul has that same spirit.  We are hearing from him once again in his letter to the Philippians, which he writes from jail.  Times are tough for Paul.  This is the point in his ministry where he should have packed it up.  This is where Christianity should have ended!  It’s one thing to say you follow Jesus, it’s another thing to keep following Jesus when you’re being jailed for it.

But this is where Paul digs in.  He doesn’t look back; he only looks forward.  His only thought is to what will happen to his community if he gives up.  His says earlier in the letter that he would prefer to just die, but that for the sake of this community he strives forward. 

His striving created this community that we all have today.  So may we all learn to push forward when things get tough, never looking behind, always looking ahead.  Amen.

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