Message From 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,
Posted by Erin Grayson with

A New Chapter

I’m writing today with mixed emotions; I’m feeling a certain kind of sadness about the closing of the chapter of Bethany’s life led by Pastor Paul, and at the same time, I’m feeling joyful as I imagine the possibilities of Bethany’s next chapter. I wonder how you’re feeling as we move into a season of transition?

No matter where you fall on the emotional spectrum, we are a church family, bound by the Good News of God’s unfailing love, and that is something that will never change, even when we do. The next chapter of Bethany’s life will offer opportunities for exciting growth and transformation, but it won’t always be comfortable—or easy. Nonetheless, we can be sure that God walks with us.

Over my January break, I read a guest essay in the New York Times by Rabbi Sharon Brous, entitled, “Train Yourself to Always Show Up,” (Brous, S. 2024, January 19. Train Yourself to Always Show Up. The New York Times, digital edition.) in which she makes the case that no matter how we’re feeling—exhausted, energized, sorrowful, or joyful—we should train ourselves to always “show up” for each other. Sometimes we’re the givers of encouragement and the holders of pain; and other times, we’re the receivers of comfort and grace. The gift of our presence model’s God’s love, alive and well among us. Rabbi Brous calls this the “Amen effect.”

It’s my hope we learn to practice the Amen effect, even when our instinct is to withdraw, or to keep a safe distance, just to see what happens during this season of unknowns. Our faith community isn’t complete without each of us being fully present and engaged as we’re called to be. Our engagement in the life of the church will strengthen our community and our life of faith. Our presence in this moment will shape our future together.

No matter how we’re feeling right now, mixed emotions or not, the invitation to “just show up” is addressed to all of us. Together we can share our burdens, and likewise, share enthusiasm and hope as we dream together about Bethany’s next chapter. I trust that God is already here with us, and will always be. And that is truly something to be joyful about—no matter what!

I’m here for you, through it all. My office hours are (generally) Tuesdays from 9:30 am -3:00 pm; Wednesdays from 9:30 am -1:00 pm; and Thursdays from 9:30 am -1:30 pm. I work from home on Mondays, and take Fridays as my Sabbath. I tend to email and return phone calls during office hours, unless it’s a pastoral emergency. While I always welcome drop in visits, it’s best to make an appointment if possible. 

Since mine is a three quarters time pastoral position, you’ll be hearing from other pastors and worship leaders one Sunday a month (with minor exceptions when I’ll be here for the entirety of the month). I’m so glad you’ll have the gift of hearing a variety of voices and learning new things—no doubt it will broaden our perspective and shape us as we grow. 

I am grateful to be walking with you during this season of transition. 

In Christ, 


PS: A copy of the essay I referenced is available on the table in the library.

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