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April: Out of no way, God makes a way

Dear Members of the Bethany Lutheran Church Community,

God’s grace and peace be upon you, in this time when our souls especially yearn for God’s presence, promises, and healing.

It has been inspiring to see how the Bethany community has been finding ways to connect and to share our love and concerns for one another in this extraordinary time.  Social distancing requires us to be apart physically, but the emails, the phone calls, the Facebook posts, the notes and the prayers have continued to bind us together as the church. 

The worship services are being streamed on the internet each week, another way we work to stay connected, doing so in tandem with our Lutheran brothers and sisters at First/Poulsbo.  These worship services will continue through Holy Week, with all the traditional services of that special time. A folder with Holy Week worship resources is being distributed to each home, so that your journey from Palm Sunday through Easter will be meaningful, perhaps in a special way this year.  Bishop Rick Jaech, from the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA, is coming to be filmed as our preacher on Easter Sunday.

The thing we miss out on, however, is the physical connection, the reassurance that comes from being together.  We miss the handshakes, the hugs, the blending of our voices in praise of God and in unity with one another.  Those in the Bethany Choir ache for the chance to sing together; the Bethany Preschool is eerily silent, except for the teachers who continue to send projects home for their charges; the Monday Women’s Bible study met via Zoom; and it appears there is a similar set-up for the “Gather” Bible Study in early April.  In the churches in Milwaukee we would hear often that “out of no way, God makes a way.”  That is the truth into which we are living.

I have been trying to call Bethany households, especially of those who live alone, just to make connections and to keep in touch, but also to see if there are any particular needs that people have.  If any needs arise for you or your neighbors, please let us know at Bethany (206-842-4241) or call me on my cell (206-601-1255).  One particularly difficult situation has been for those in care facilities, or in the hospital, (and now, even in our homes) where we are unable to visit those who are sick or especially lonely.  Your prayers and special gestures for those in such circumstances are appreciated.

God will make a way.

Pastor Paul

Posted by Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers with

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.

WE ARE REQUESTING SILENCE IN THE SANCTUARY FOR THE FIVE MINUTES DURING THE PRELUDE FOR MEDITATION.

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.

PRAYER
- 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.”

ALMSGIVING
- 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”

 

Posted by Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers with

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