Message From Pastor Erin

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Summer Blessings!

Happy Summer! As life's pace slows a little to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, we don't stop recognizing important events in the life of our church, our nation, and our world. Here are a few to know about:
+ June is Pride Month. We give thanks for the gifts, wisdom, leadership, and faith of our LGBTQIA+ neighbors and siblings in Christ. We ask God to advocate for social, institutional, and legislative change that reflects justice, total inclusion, and God’s boundless love for humanity in all its diversity. On Sunday, June 30, we'll have a special liturgy for a Pride worship service. (Find local Pride events - and Lutheran point people for some events - around our region here:
Juneteenth (June 19th) is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in America. After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, owners in many isolated areas kept word from the people they had enslaved so they would not flee. On June 19, 1865, some of the last enslaved people in America were freed when the news, at last, reached Confederate Galveston, Texas. Since that day, Juneteenth has been celebrated to honor the African Americans who helped build this nation. We are invited to pray with our Lutheran siblings of the NW Synod: Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image. Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression. Help us, like those of generations before us who resisted the evil of slavery and human bondage in any form and any manner of oppression. Help us to use our freedoms to bring justice among people and nations everywhere, to the glory of your Holy name through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
+ Throughout July, I will offer a sermon series entitled, "Dining with Jesus," during which we'll explore the teachings of Jesus offered in the context of a meal. There is much to learn about hospitality, welcome, forgiveness, grace, and even how to engage in conversation with people you disagree with (a hot topic as we enter into the political season). I don't claim to have all the answers, but Jesus does! Join us throughout July as we learn together what it means to be a disciple of Christ around the table--maybe you'll be inspired to practice by hosting a dinner party yourself. And even if you can't host a meal, we will all have a chance to practice as a church family by sharing a meal after worship near the end of the month. Stay tuned for more details!
May God bless the summer days ahead.
In Christ,
Pastor Erin
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Eastertide Blessings!

Eastertide blessings! A new church season is upon us, and with it comes change. During the Lenten season, we explored manifestations of joy even in the midst of challenging circumstances—which culminated with the joy of an empty tomb on Easter Sunday. Death transformed to new life. Alleluia! He is risen. Christ is risen indeed!
We begin the fifty-day Eastertide season with persistent joy in our hearts even as we grieve the loss of DeMar Sather and Vince Mattson, two beloved and exemplary long-time members of the Bethany family. The promise of resurrection reminds us that death is not the end of the story, and although we feel their loss deeply, the joy of the Good News persists. It is the basis of our faith, and so we move forward into a new season holding fast to that promise. 
Throughout Eastertide, our scripture readings focus on Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances and the ways that he continued to share the Good News with his disciples through signs and miracles. As we enter into these ancient stories, we are invited to keep our sense of awe and wonder alive by experiencing them in our hearts, letting down our intellectual “guard.” 
For some, this exercise inspires artistic expression, including (but not limited to) visual art, creative writing, and music. We’ll try some new things in worship inspired by the signs and wonders of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances—making the ancient stories relevant in our present lives. We keep hope alive by preserving our sense of awe and wonder through creative expression of the Good News. 
Benedictine monk, Brother David Stendhal (b. 1927) once wrote that the heart of joy is gratitude. I remain deeply grateful for the ways that the Bethany family shares the Good News, through Sunday school, the quilting ministry, music, and housing—to name a few. It gives me great joy to see children engaged in Sunday school, young people interested in community and confirmation, dedicated people serving the affordable housing project, faithful people serving on the transition team, talented people sewing beautiful quilts, and the Bethany choir singing the Good News. Signs of life and wonders of new life abound!
Alleluia! He is risen. Christ is risen indeed! 
Yours in faith,
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