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March: Come Away Fast and Pray

By Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers

“Going to God means tuning out the constant tumult crowding our heads in order to tune our hearts to quieter voices revealing God’s holy intentions for this time.”

Jim Wallis, Sojourners

A few of us Bethanians met and brainstormed further about Lent 2020, a conversation that led us to “recalculate” our Lenten plans for this year. It has seemed a particularly unsettling time with the political scene, the world climate concerns, as well as personal transitions and changes. (Meditations on transitions that have been submitted are being
posted on the bulletin board throughout Lent.) Thus, we embraced a theme calling us to enter more deeply into such considerations through the traditional disciplines of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. What we have shaped is around the theme “Come Away Fast and Pray.”

Our Midweek meditations on Wednesdays will focus on one word each week in a service of prayer, candlelight, scripture, and silence.

- Noon – Simple soup supper
12:30 to 12:45 p.m. – “Come Away Fast and Pray”

- 6:15 p.m. – Simple soup supper
7-7:15 p.m. – “Come Away Fast and Pray”

During the season of Lent you will see subtle changes in our worship space, helping to focus our worship with new perspectives:

- Baptismal font at center of assembly.
- Communion rails in place.|- Placing the lectern in what will be shaped into a more accessible location.


Lent also is about the “disciplines,” a word that for many has come into disfavor, but whose purpose is to allow us to listen to what Jesus speaks to the pain of the world. You are invited to enter into FASTING, PRAYER, and ALMSGIVING in meaningful and creative ways. Some prompting ideas:

FASTING (with thanks to Rachel Held Evans)
- Choose to make water you only beverage for 40 days.
- Do a 40-day purge of your stuff, removing one item a day from your home, donating the best of it to Goodwill or the Rotary Auction.
- Give up going out to eat and donate the money to Lutheran World Relief, Helpline House or North Kitsap Fishline.
- Fast by unplugging.
- Give up meat for 40 days, to be gentle on the earth (and body).
- Fast from cynicism.

- Join the Bethany community for midweek worship.
- Designate five times a day for prayer.
- Pray for “enemies” and “those who persecute you.”
- Pray for those who have asked for prayers; make a list.
- Pray for those for whom it is awkward to pray for.
- Pray for peace, in your heart and world

“Help us to pray for the things that break your heart.”

- Give to the helpers of your choice.
- Find a way to share with the “undeserving.”
- Tie a quilt on Tuesdays with the Bethany quilters.
- Gather your change for a noisy offering.
- Share with your children the importance of almsgiving and generosity.

Welcome to Lent: “Come Away Fast and Pray”


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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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