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June/July 2018 Life Together, pastor's address

Dear Bethanians,

Our Lenten theme this year revolved around “Love Letters,” but I am wondering if that theme may not better lend itself to the season of Pentecost, and the growth and connections it celebrates. I say this because over the past week I have witnessed an abundance of notes and cards and letters being exchanged.

- Today, four thank-you cards were on the office counter, from recipients of Bethany Mission Endowment awards, and from those who benefit from our general benevolence outreach.

- This morning Sheila Jakubik, our preschool director, handed me a nice, homemade card from one of our preschoolers, an end-of-the-year thank you to Pastor Paul (with a ballerina on the front).

- Thursday, I received a poster from the Firefly Class, replete with balloons and the name of each child.

- Sunday, members of Bethany made over 40 communications with members of Congress concerning our support for assistance to those who are hungry and in poverty in our nation, through an offering of letters with Bread for the World.

- Last week, letters were sent out to architects, asking that they use their faithful imaginations to create a concept for affordable housing on the Bethany “South 40” property.

- Bella Fenner received a scholarship from the Interfaith Council, in large part because of the letter to the editor she wrote about gun violence in our schools.

- This is the season of graduations, preschool tonight and the high school this weekend, and so too, a flurry of cards of invitation and congratulations.

- This can also be the season when “Letters of Recommendation” are requested and written, commending those with whom our congregation is connected for places of education, employment, and awards.

And letters inform our faith, as heard last Sunday in our “Children’s Worship” the encouragement from Paul in Ephesians 4:32, as read by Howard Howlett, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

So, welcome to the season of Pentecost, when we live not by the letter of the law, but by the letters of love.

Love, 

Pastor Paul

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April Life Together newsletter

Prayers, blessings offered during journeys to the cross

Dear Bethanians,

A blessed Holy Week to each of you. “Journey” is an oft-used, perhaps overused, word to describe the adventures of our bodies and spirits in these weeks. It brings to mind the liturgical paths we traverse from Palm Sunday, with footing on leafy branches and cloaks, through Maundy Thursday (well-fed and with clean feet), into Good Friday (to Golgotha, with a
cross), and briskly striding to an empty tomb at Easter. All the way we are accompanied by human emotions, but more importantly by God’s irrepressible grace. A grace-filled Holy Week journey is my prayer for each of you.

“Journey” takes on other significance as so many are in the departure gates, heading to South Africa, to Alaska, to Arizona, to Nebraska, while others are welcomed in the arrival gates, returning from similar destinations. Sometimes I feel like a travel agent, trying to keep track of the journeys. For you my prayer is for safe travels, and joyous homecoming, all the while accompanied by God’s grace and the prayer of the Bethany community.

Still others see the journey ahead as one that anticipates hospital visits and physical therapy appointments, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. To envision these through the lens of Christ the healer and sustainer is to know that we travel not alone, but always into a hope-filled future. We journey as resurrection people. A blessed journey to each of you.

A fellow traveler,

Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers

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