Sunday, November 20, 2016

From The Pugh...

This time of year we prepare for Reformation and Thanksgiving Worship. Times of reflecting on our Lutheran Heritage and all we are blessed with and thankful for, which for us at Bethlehem is a lot.

Reformation is a time we remember where we came from. This week I was reading the Trinity Seminary newsletter and Trinity President Rick Barger shared these words I wanted to pass on to you:

   The challenge we face together is a deeply missional one for the whole church. The question is, as one colleague puts it, “Are we collectively committed to having a robust Lutheran witness?” I want my grandchildren to be impacted by a robust Lutheran witness because:
• The primacy of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the Lutheran witness.  Christ alone brings about salvation by grace and faith alone.
• To be Lutheran is to be Jesus people. “Jesus is the messiah” is the content of our good news.  A Lutheran witness may engage in activism, but we do so as an outcome to the gospel.  “Jesus is the messiah” and the eschatology embedded in that claim is the only proclamation that can heal this deeply broken world.
• To be Lutheran means to honor the “priesthood” of all people. Everybody has a stake and is called into the church’s mission.
• To be Lutheran means that we do not exist for ourselves. We exist for the sake of the world. 
• The sacramental life of the church matters, not because Baptism and Eucharist are rituals, but because they embody the content of the gospel. 
• Finally, to be Lutheran is not about Lutheran as a noun. We get into trouble when we think of Lutheranism as a noun. Better to think of Lutheran as a verb, meaning that it is a way of living the gospel in the world.
Being Lutheran is who we are. It is how we think and how we act. The questions we have to wrestle with today are, “How do we continue to share being Lutheran with the world?” What are you willing to donate your time, you treasure and your talent towards?

November 13th Pastor John Schaumburg will lead Bethlehem in a visioning process. What direction do we as members of Bethlehem see God calling us to follow in the next 3-5 years? The event will begin following worship at 10:30am. We will eat lunch together and continue into the afternoon. We will listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we answer questions and dream dreams. The entire congregation of Bethlehem is encouraged to attend. This is your time to have your voice heard. If you choose not to come then we ask you to support the decisions made by the people who make this a priority.

In preparation for this time together I leave you with these questions to ponder that Pastor Bill Rindy shared during the last Rio Salado Conference meeting:
  1. Why in God’s name does Bethlehem exist?
  2. What is Bethlehem being called to do for Christ’s sake?
  3. What gifts has the Holy Spirit resourced Bethlehem with?

Bethlehem is not our church. Bethlehem is God’s church. Bethlehem exists to worship and serve God. We are God’s hands and feet. Join me on November 13 as we map out together the next road Christ is leading us down. Let everyone know far and wide that Bethlehem “Is a Home to Share God’s Love and Grace.” And all God’s people say…AMEN!

from the November 2016 newsletter

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