Dear People of Bethlehem,

I want to begin this, my first newsletter article to you all, with a word of thanks. The welcome that I have received at Bethlehem has truly warmed my heart and made me feel right at home. Your notes that were collected before my arrival were a wonderful source of joy as well as a list about a mile long of all of the wonderful foods I need to try and places I need to go in this new place that I now call home. I especially appreciate the grace that you have afforded me when it comes to remembering names. I have been doing my absolute best to retain as many as possible, but deeply appreciate your patience and willingness to remind me.

It’s hard to believe that I have been serving here as pastor for a little over six weeks. My how the time has flown! Your participation in, and excitement around my installation service three weeks ago truly marked the day as a holy experience. In the time since I have also attended my first continuing education conference. All first call pastors are required to attend First Call Theological Education events, one in the fall and one in the spring, for their first three years of ministry. The topic of this conference was emotional intelligence and covered self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social management. It gathered first call pastors from all 5 synods of Region 2 and was a great experience and opportunity to get to know more of my colleagues.

Coming up later this month is the annual Pacifica Synod Assembly. It will take place from May 18th to 19th at Hope Lutheran Church in Palm Desert. Joining Pastor Laura and myself as your representatives will be Tom and Lori Wolf, Henna Hall, and Linnaea Erisman. The theme of the assembly is “Go & Tell – giving voice to faith, justice, and blessing” with a keynote address being given on those topics of faith, justice, and blessing. Pastor Laura will be serving as the resolutions committee chair.

This Easter season marks a time when we celebrate and marvel at the wonder of the empty tomb. But it is also a time that we are called to consider how we are church, the body of Christ in the world. Jesus spent the time between the resurrection and his ascension preparing his followers for what lay ahead of them – the task of continuing the ministry that Jesus had started. In this Easter season, how are you being called to act as the body of Christ to the world around you? How are you being called to embody his love and grace to your neighbors near and far? And how are you being called into community with your fellow siblings in Christ?

Easter Blessings,
Pastor Sam