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November: Transitions mark the journey that we do not make alone

It could perhaps be said about most any time of year, but it feels to me as through October/November are transitional months in our faith journey. These have long been favorite months for me, with the changing seasons, and this fall the colors have been the best I can remember in the Pacific Northwest. I am reminded of these transitional months, as Bethany’s celebration last week (replete with sill songs and tasty pies) of our 10th anniversary together still resounds joyfully in our ears. (We fondly remember the forty people helping unload the U-Haul).

Transitions take many forms, with children (and parents) and teachers settling into their new patterns. The prayer list seems to expand daily, making me wonder if this is a season especially conducive to transitions in health. The funeral of Jess Browning last weekend amplifies that question, as does the extra attention I see Laurie giving to residents at Martha and Mary in her role as chaplain in these fall days. All Saints Sunday this week marks these “transitions” on our annual calendar.

Thses are the days we turn up the heat in our homes, and we break out the down comforters. The newspapers warn of “The Big Dark” that descends upon Seattle each year at this time, and our clocks are required to “fall back” in response.

We transition from baseball to football (which seems a welcome transition this year in Seattle), and even basketball is edging in. Elections, the first Tuesday in November, are designed for orderly transitions, and Reformation Sunday reminds us that reform and change are a part of the church, essentially to its vibrancy.

To acknowledge and celebrate this each week, we gather to praise the Living God, to listen to the word that comes alive in our hearing, and to revel in the truly present Jesus, who comes to us in bread and wine to accompany us in our transitions. 

And at the end of November, we punctuate all of this transition and change with Thanksgiving. For just when we grow early of all the upheaval, we squint to see the harvest, the healing., the hope, and our empty vessels are filled with gratitude. The transitions mark the journey, and we do not walk alone.

Posted by Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers with

October: Fight to end hunger continues every day, in so very many ways

Dear Bethanians,

October 16 is World Food Day. It was established as such by the United Nations in 1979, an occasion etched into my mind when I was a sophomore at Pacific Lutheran University involved in the Bread for the World movement there.

Bread for the World is a faith-based advocacy organization seeking to promote awareness of hunger concerns both domestically and globally, and advocating for programs that help address hunger.

At PLU, Bread for the World took the shape of:

- weekly gatherings to learn of hunger issues and

- weekly recycling pick-up, with the financial
poceeds donated to hunger programs; and

an annual retreat on the coast somewhere with a
PLU pastor to reflect and spend some time away together.

Most importantly, Bread for the World is where I met Laurie Stumme, and where we discovered our common interests in alleviating hunger. I own much to Bread for the World.

And the fight to end hunger continues. Last week, Laurie, in her role as hunger coordinator for the Northwest Washington Synod, along with her team, interviewed and evaluated a number of hunger-related programs in our synod, each which had applied for an ELCA Hunger Grant.

Last Sunday, six Bethany youth set up the 3-mile route for the annual CROP Walk on Bainbridge, then another six Bethanians braved the rain to participate in this walk to address hunger locally and globally.

On Monday, 14 Bethanians spent the day with an equal number of friends from the Church of Steadfast Love, an ELCA congregation serving alongside the homeless at Seattle’s Compass Center.  In breaking bread together, the importance of World Food Day takes on a human face.

Tuesday, over a dozen quilters worked in our fellowship hall to produce quilts for Lutheran World Relief, bringing comfort to lives ravaged by hunger, disease and displacement.

And at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, a special event will take place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood. It is the opening of the film “Hunger and Hope: Lessons from Ethiopia and Guatemala,” with Rick Steves and our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as our hosts.

This is the spirit of our congregation and our denomination, to bear witness to our faith and to God’s compassion by working to alleviate hunger. As we gather at our family dinner tables, as we gather at holy communion, we do
so in the recognition that every day is World Food Day.



Posted by Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers with

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