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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.

Wednesday Words, Oct. 23, 2019

Stewardship Moment - Karla Malpica - INspired!

This Tuesday as I walked into our church council meeting Pastor Cathy asked me if I had my speech ready. I have to be honest; I hadn’t even started. I wasn’t sure the real way I became inspired to create a new group at Bethany was what they had in mind when they asked me to speak today.

Then I looked at our stewardship brochure, and under God Inspires us it says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Fear can be a weird motivator. When I found myself realizing that my passion of Theater becoming a full-time career was in direct conflict with my #1 rule of always being there for my friends and family I was scared. Scared the depression I had fallen into would get worse and never go away. I was feeling completely lost and knew my current job was not the answer, so I started to look elsewhere.

The political climate had changed and rights I believed in were being called into question and I started looking into things like women’s rights, climate change, immigration, LGBTQ rights and so much more. While it did start a fire in me the biggest result was a feeling of being extremely overwhelmed. How was little old me supposed to make any difference in such huge complicated issues? Where would I start? Was I the only one feeling this way?

Then on the first Thursday of the month I headed to Theology on Tap. And, while if you’ve ever gone you know we have a hard time staying on topic, this time we did talk about the question of if and how congregations should be involved in political matters. As the night went on, I become truly inspired. Inspired by the community around me, how much they cared, their suggestions on how Bethany could be involved, and what actions we could take.

The final push came when Secretary Boerger issued us a challenge in his sermon during one of the Wednesday chapel services at the churchwide offices. He told us to do that thing you have been waiting or scared to do, volunteer for that organization, start that new group at your church. He had us write our action down on a post it and stick up on the wall of the chapel. They would stay there as a reminder of our challenge.

And so, I started the group Thoughts, Prayers, Action. A group that while we do talk about issues that can be extremely overwhelming, I come out of every meeting inspired. Inspired by the commitment of our community to not just hear or read the gospel, but to live it out.

So, as we hand in our stewardship cards, I INvite you to the same challenge issued to me. Volunteer for the church ministry you have been thinking about; help out at that event you love going to every year; come to one of our Thoughts, Prayers, Action meetings. Because I have a feeling the more INvolved and INvested your become, the more INspired you will be by the mission of our Bethany community.

Are you IN Bethany Lutheran Church? We’re looking for 100% participation in filling out your God’s Work. Our Hands forms. Even just signing your name and handing in your form is saying that you are IN. You are IN as a member of our congregation. God might also be calling you in new ways this year. Please take time to fill out your form. The form includes your Estimate of Giving Card (financial offering) and Gods Work. Our Hands. (volunteer opportunities). We are asking each member to complete both.  If you would like you can fill out the

 Online Estimate of Giving Submission here. Here’s a pdf. of the God’s Work Our Hands Form 

Wednesday Words, Oct. 16, 2019

October 13, 2019 Stewardship Talk


Good morning

As part of this year’s Stewardship Campaign, Pastor Cathy invited us to speak on WHY and HOW we are invested in Bethany Lutheran Church.


As to WHY

We believe our talents and treasures are given to us by God. Not just for our benefit, but to share with others. We’ve all worked hard in life to get where we are. We haven’t done it alone. We’ve all received help from others along the way, and especially from God. He has given us good health, among other blessings.

Investing in Bethany is one way to give back, and thank God.

Stewardship is a way to live the belief that ALL we have, and ALL we are, comes from and belongs to God.

We are also invested in Bethany because this congregation is like family to us.

The people here support and care about each other and share life’s ups and downs. Together, we pray and sing, laugh and cry, work and play… and hope.

There’s a lot of smiling, hugging, kind words, and handshaking going on here. We always leave church feeling better than when we came.

We share this wonderful Christian faith with which we are blessed.

And through it all, God is with us.

We are blessed to have pastors who challenge and encourage, and remind us to interact with the world in the context of our Christian faith… and to do so every day, not just on Sunday.


As to HOW Sue and I invest in Bethany…

It is by sharing our time, talents, and treasure. (I’m a little short on talent, but Sue more than makes up for that with hers.)

Specifically, both of us serve as

Ushers Greeters Evangelism Committee members Earthkeepers

Faithful Stewards and Pancake Preparers at the Johnny Appleseed breakfast.

Sue is also a reader, gives blood at the Blood Drive, is on the Stewardship Committee, and assists with Publicity for Bethany.

I am also a Church Council member, and a member of the Bethany Arts Series Committee.

There are many ways to give back and invest in Bethany. Please review the white volunteer opportunity sheet included in your Stewardship Brochure. And then indicate your areas of interest. You will meet some wonderful people as a Bethany volunteer, and you will experience what Jesus meant when he said, “It is in giving that you will receive.”

The white volunteer sheet also has a financial portion where you should indicate the amount you wish to give to Bethany, and whether you will donate electronically.

Sue and I also give to Bethany monetarily – by using the electronic Simply Giving option. In this way, our contribution is automatically deducted from our bank account, without the bother of writing checks. You can also modify the amount you give at any time, by contacting the church office.

Each Sunday, here at Bethany, we are reassured that our sins are forgiven, that God always loves us as we are, and that we are all welcome here. And, we share the love and support of this wonderful church family of ours.

Sue and I are very grateful for Bethany Lutheran Church… so, we invest!

Thank You All Very Much!

Wednesday Words, Oct. 9. 2019

Wednesday Words

October 9, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

Count Me IN God

As we begin our Stewardship Campaign this year, we want you ask yourself the question, “Are you all IN?” God has already called you in some way. Maybe God has called you to be IN-volved in one of our many ministries. Maybe God is calling you to be more IN-terconnected through fellowship. Maybe God has called you to IN-vest in the ministry of our church.

Whatever God is calling you to do, we pray that you respond to God’s calling with a raised hand, “Count me IN God.” Through the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of folks who have raised their hands in response to God’s call.

On Sunday, this IN-tergenerational family (Bonnie Drew and her grandkids, Ben & Sydney Huffman) shared their story of how they got IN-volved here at church:


Everyone’s journey with God is different.

My journey changed in March of 2014 when I lost my husband. I tried to go back to my church but I felt no comfort there. So, I stopped going. Then, in December of 2014 I felt a calling. I wanted to go to church every Sunday in December and I wanted to take my grandchildren.

With the blessing of my daughter and son-in-law we headed to Bethany where the kids had gone to pre-school. The first Sunday I picked them up, we went to church, life is good. The second Sunday I picked them up and Sydney said wait, dad’s coming. We went to church, life is better. By the end of the month I sat in church with my whole family and we have been here ever since. Fast forward to today. My whole family are active members at Bethany. Our life’s journey has a new path.


Since I’ve joined Bethany, I found I am happy with where I spend my free time. My sister and I have attended Lutherdale, helped with VBS, joined the youth bell choir and music group. I also help with the sound board. I find church is a good place to volunteer your time.


Last year at Christmas my grandma gave me a check to do something good in the community. I gave half the money to ON ANGELS WINGS, an animal rescue group. Today I’m donating the rest to Bethany in the name of Ruby, our new rescue puppy. Today is the kick off of the 2019 Stewardship campaign. I love being a part of the Bethany community, so I ask you please think about giving. Thank you

Wednesday Words, Oct. 2, 2019

Wednesday Words

October 2, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female;

for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

- Galatians 3:28

It was the first time I met Pastor Cathy. We were all out to eat, getting to know one another and having a good time, when she caught me a bit off guard with a question, “So, how would you feel about having a female senior pastor?” Well, at least she’s direct! I thought to myself.

But I told her that for me, it wasn’t an issue. I had always worked with female lead pastors. On internship, it was Pastor Deb Stehlin. Then it was Pastor Carrie Smith here at Bethany. Only for a brief time had I worked with Pr. Len Hoffman, and that was on a limited basis! The question caught me a bit off guard because that was basically all I knew in my time as a professional pastor.

But still, I knew why she had to ask it. Sexism is real and it’s still a problem in a lot of churches (check out this video from the North Carolina Synod of the ELCA to see what I mean). Gender bias still plays a big role in our society, which is why the ELCA put out it’s social statement on Faith, Sexism and Justice at the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

While theologically, we know that we are all one in Christ, our daily lives and actions don’t always reflect God’s intention for us. The social statement reads,

“Due to sexism, many are deprived of God’s good intention that all flourish. Over time and in many places, people have made changes to counter the effects of sexism. Yet we accept that we are called to seek even fuller measures of justice and equity for all those affected by this sin.”

The social statement is a call for action and justice where the sin of sexism exists. We encourage you to read it (reader beware, it’s long, but worthwhile!). Maybe it will challenge you to think differently about how God calls out of worldly understandings of sex and gender and into an understanding that reflects our baptismal promise of oneness in Christ.


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