Dear people of Bethlehem,
Is it Spring yet? The signs are everywhere around us. In other parts of the country it’s a little clearer: the snow melts, the daffodils push through the frozen ground, the trees begin to bud. But here in San Diego, seasons are marked differently; a subtle greening of the world. In our part of the world the change of seasons is more a matter of the heart, than the ground. Is it time? Time for resurrection and an empty tomb and a new day. Time to consider the post Easter journey already glimpsed on the horizon. We can see it, but we are not there yet. That is the nature of the faithful journey. We can see it, the hope and justice and love and grace of God, but the world is not there yet. Yet, we do not lose hope. Because we must first be able to see it, if we are to get there. So let us see it on the horizon, until that day comes when it is so, until that day when tears are laid aside, and righteousness rolls down like an ever flowing stream.
Pastor Sam Nelson’s first Sunday with us will be Sunday, March 18th. Three members of Bethlehem and I were able to attend his ordination last Sunday in Half Moon Bay. It was a powerfully moving service as Pastor Sam took on the responsibility and blessing of this new call. On March 18th we will welcome him. I remember still, the powerful welcome you extended to me on my first day at Bethlehem. I knew from that moment on, how blessed I was to be with you. This Sunday and next, there will be an opportunity to write a small note card to Pastor Sam. Offer him a welcome or a prayer or tell him where the best Mexican food is in town. I still have the notes you wrote to me. Also, we are asking everyone to bring a shell or pebble or piece of sea glass on his first Sunday. Together they will be a symbol of the prayers we offer him. Pastor Sam’s installation will be Sunday, April 8 at 2pm. Bishop Andy Taylor will be with us to install our new pastor. Looking forward to seeing you all there.
I have a story of stewardship. As you know, we have spent the last year working on our mission endowment fund with an excellent committee and the expertise of Greg Shepherd. We now have a clear path for those who wish to give legacy gifts to the congregation. The fund is set up to maintain the principle of the gift and use the interest only to fund ongoing ministry. Just this month we received the first substantial legacy gift to be placed in that fund. Dorothy Gish was a wise, faithful and consistent member of Bethlehem for many years. Her funeral was last year and a number of you were there. We received a check this month from her estate. What a rich blessing. Now Dorothy’s legacy lives in the ongoing ministry of this congregation. Her legacy will touch us for the whole of this congregation’s journey. Thank you to all those who have remembered Bethlehem in your legacy giving. If you would like to make such a gift and would like some information on how to do so, please contact the church office and we will connect you to someone like Greg Shepherd, who can assist you. I stood this week at the graveside of another longtime member of this congregation, Ione Ellis. She was a woman of faith and grace and dignity and she turned 100 years old this year. As I stood at her graveside, I was struck by the grace of this life’s journey; its tears and blessing, faith and mercy for us all. Blessed be each saints of God’s church, you and me and those who now rest in eternity’s promise.
Please join us for Holy Week services. We begin with Maundy Thursday’s service of foot washing, then to Good Friday’s Tenebrae service of shadows, and finally to the Vigil of Easter as we wait for the resurrection of our Lord with joy. These three days offer us a unique journey. If you have never made the commitment to come all three days, I invite you to do so. It is a powerful time. Easter Sunday morning, we will worship at 7:30, 9:00 and 10:30am. Bethlehem knows how to do celebration worship well. Join us for trumpets, choirs and joy.
Blessed Lenten journey to you all, as we see on the horizon the hope Christ came to bring.