Dear members and friends of Bethlehem,

Lent literally means the lengthening of days as spring approaches. New seed in the ground, new shoots rising, more sun, resurrection and life. In your life and mine, God is always laying new seed in the ground. Always moving us toward moments of hope.

Much new is happening around Bethlehem these days. Pastor Sam will be joining us in leadership beginning March 15. His first Sunday with us will be March 18th. His installation is scheduled for April 8th. We welcome his new voice and gifts. We will be bidding farewell to Mary Shaima on Feb. 11th as we give thanks for her and as she begins her new journey. This last month, the Hands of Peace and Choose to Serve events brought new voices to our campus and new opportunities and new ways to reach into our community and our world.

Over 100 people joined us for the Hands of Peace event. We broke bread together as Christians Jews and Muslims. We laughed and learned together and gave thanks for our work together for the sake of peace in our world. There was an energy in the room that only happens when we risk crossing barriers for the sake of our common hope. Our Choose to Serve event welcomed 20 leaders from organizations all over North County who came and shared with us the many opportunities and good work being done in North County with hospice, refugee assistance, emergency preparedness, foster children, feeding ministry and so much more. It was a day of energy and mutual gratitude. Both events were gift and seed.

Ash Wednesday will be February 14th this year, on Valentine’s Day. Easter Sunday will be April 1st, on April Fools Day. Clearly God has a sense of humor! We gather on Ash Wednesday for the imposition of ashes made from the palms of last year’s Palm Sunday. Ashes are not simply a symbol of our sin, they are more clearly a symbol of our mortality. We are indeed dust and to dust we shall return. It is that recognition of our mortality, that gives life its weight of blessing and grace.

Our lenten soup suppers start Wednesday, February 21st. We will gather for a shared meal at 6 pm. It’s a wonderful time for conversation and fellowship. Come straight from work, bring the kids and we will have dinner ready for you. At 7 pm, we gather in the sanctuary for Holden Evening Prayer. Certainly the most striking liturgy in the Lutheran Church. It is powerful in its simplicity. At 7:30 pm, we gather for learning. This year, Jamie Newcomb will bring his substantial gifts as a professional actor and lead us in an evening of theatre, followed by conversation led by me around a different theme each week: Journey, Time, Grief, Gratitude and Hope. Join us for powerful conversation.

Lent is a time to pause and consider the gift of the faith we have been given. The relationship in which we stand. As we take time to listen in this season, may we hear God’s voice. What new seed and grace might God be planting even now? Together we are participants in God’s intentions for tomorrow. Thank you for this journey we share.

Blessed Lent,
Pastor Laura