Dear Bethlehem,

As many of you know I recently returned from helping my parents move. I said goodbye to my childhood home (pictured) of 19 years and helped them move into their new house in Ashland, Oregon. It was an emotional week and physically exhausting. By the time the movers arrived on Monday morning we had reached that stage in packing where you are no longer organized but are simply throwing stuff in boxes haphazardly. When it came time for my mom and I to leave with our two dogs I took a few moments to walk around the house one last time. As crazy or silly as it may sound I walked through and said goodbye to each of the rooms that had housed so many formative moments in my life, and I thanked the house for all it had done. It had provided us with shelter and warmth, a gathering place for family and friends, and most importantly it had provided us with a home.

But as sad as I was, there was an underlying feeling of peace that accompanied it. Because I knew that this phase of my family’s life had come to an end, and it was time to let a new family make just as many wonderful memories in that place. And I knew that the memories that were formed in that place will forever be with me, be a part of me, be part of the story of who I am.

This week also happens to be VBS here at Bethlehem, and I have to say, I am more than impressed. The enthusiasm and heart of the volunteers, the decorations and set designs, the passion and love that are poured into this program are truly amazing. One of the Bible stories on our first day was the story of the Prodigal Son from the Gospel of Luke. As I was hearing it I suddenly had one of those lightbulb moments – just as the memories of my childhood home will always be with me no matter where I happen to call home, so too is God always with us. No matter how far afield we may stray, no matter the distance or time we spend traveling, we have a God who is committed to us, who sticks with us through thick and thin. A God who goes out ahead of us to guide us on our journey, stands behind us to urge us onwards, beside us to keep us company, and surrounds us with boundless love.

May your journey that we call life be blessed, and may you always know that God is with you through all of the twists and turns, valleys and mountains, and wherever you call home.

Pastor Sam