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February: Tell us how God accompanied you in the ‘crossovers’ of your life

By Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers

Dear Bethanians,

The church has an especially important role in the lives of people and communities in those times of transition. Certainly this is the case when it comes to birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage and death, but also in those other times of significant change. Just this week I am in contact with those hospitalized, moving from house to retirement community, moving from Bainbridge, undergoing surgery, taking on new employment,
entering hospice, and a new baby.

As we were getting an oil change the other day at the Subaru dealership, I was thinking of this, and trying to conjure up a good name for a theme for such transitions, recognizing how God is present with us in those times of change. I saw the new
Subaru model, a Crosstrek, and the names was appealing, suggesting the journey, the “trek” that is comprised of those transitions. But, to avoid copyright infringement and to broaden the theme, I landed on “crossover,” something perhaps more rooted in biblical imagery.

Think “crossing over” the River Jordan into the promised land:
- The Red Sea, from slavery in Egypt to freedom;
- Social barriers, with Jesus associating the lepers, tax collectors, Samaritans, women, Pharisees, children, etc.;
- As Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem” (and the cross);
- From life into death;
- From death into life;
- From broken to whole;
- From enmity to reconciliation.

“Crossover,” according to Wikipedia, is:

1) A point or place of crossing from one side to another; or
2) The process of achieving success in a different field or style, such as music.

This, for me, creatively speaks to the transitions we experience, the “crossover” moments, those times of movement from one place to another, from one experience to another. It also, corresponding to definition #2, is finding a new stride (success”) in new circumstances.

In all this, as people of faith, we ponder the question, we discern perhaps in retrospect, how God is present, how God accompanies us, how God is at work in the crossovers of our lives. This is our theme of reflection and discovery, of celebration and perhaps lament in the upcoming season of Lent (Ash Wednesday is Feb. 26.).

Here is a less than exhaustive list of “crossover” (transition) times we might recognize:

Birth of a child
Death of a parent
Cancer diagnosis
Change of domiciles
Sexual discovery

Here, also, is a short list of those “crossover” moments in the lives of children:

Change of schools
First lost tooth
Driver’s license
First day of school
Potty trained
Starting to play an instrument
“I can read”

To aid us in this “crossover” season, I am inviting/soliciting/begging for individuals to submit their brief reflection on their crossover experiences, addressing the question, “How did you feel God’s presence in this time of transition/crossover?” We will share these reflections via social media, bulletin boards, and in hard copy so that we can consider them in the season of Lent

Yours on the Journey,

Pastor Paul



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January: A place for her, a space for her, a need for Martha as we gathered

By Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers

Dear Bethanians,

On Sunday, Dec. 8, Bethany Lutheran Church sent out two groups of carolers following worship. The first, a delegation of some of Bethany’s finest voices, went to Bethany’s “at home” members in Poulsbo. The report back was that of a delightful
time together, with voices singing in tune, in
harmony, and in the spirit of the story of God’s love
made known in the baby Jesus.

The other group of carolers, in contrast, were led not by fine voices but by yours truly. We ventured to Madison House to sing in a less-polished performance, but what we lacked in musicality we more than made up for in enthusiasm and volume
… we had a number of children with us, after all.

Halfway through our caroling, a woman found her way, via her walker, to the piano next to us. There she sat down, and began to accompany us, without music, without missing a beat, but with  wonderful musical flourishes that made us sound good. With her accompaniment, all the Madison House residents joined in. Her name is Martha, and she is 103 years old.

With her accompaniment, all the Madison House residents joined in. Her name is Martha, and she is 103 years old.

My humble guess is that Martha thought we might benefit from some help, in our notes, in our keys, in our pitch. In further reflection I also realize that she understood that she was welcome to join us, to be a part of the song and its message, she felt comfortable contributing her gifts. There was a place for her, a space for her, a need for Martha.

Therein I see a parable for the church, for the community of faith. Parables rarely benefit from explanation, so I will leave it at that, with Martha at the piano, accompanying an off-key pastor.

A Blessed 202 to each of you.


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