Dear people of Bethlehem,

I saw a sign today that read, “Every moment matters, including this one.”  How true.  Time is precious and the grace we are offered in every moment, and how we use those moments, even more precious.  I was reminded of that, in a very personal way this week.  A member of our congregation, Donna Hackett, died this week.  She is young, she left young children, and I have known her since she was a girl herself.  As the sun set that day, I looked out my office window at the striking colors of the sky, and thought to myself, “Donna would have loved this.”  I was grieving and angry and hurting that this privilege was taken from her, and quietly guilty that the privilege was mine.  In that moment, came a text from another member of the congregation who knows the family well.  The text read, “What a beautiful sunset, rest in peace Donna.”  And suddenly, it was a moment to cherish, as well as to grieve.  A moment to count grace, as well as sorrow.  I left my office and walked out to see the colors of the sky and I gave thanks.  What a privilege are the moments we have.

Our new year has begun.  What moments will this new year bring?  We have just finished our annual meeting and have much to celebrate.  Our youth ministry has increased by 25%, our preschool programs are enrolling and will soon be full.  Pastor Sam is approaching his first full year of ministry with us.  The Men of Bethlehem, (MOB) is up and running and they are working to refurbish our patio.  Adult education is meeting at Swami’s, with 30 people attending.  We are reaching out to Ocean Knoll English Language Learning Students in new ways, as well as TACO and the many other outreach ministries of the congregation.  Music continues to be our greatest joy, and gathering for worship our greatest gift.

A brand new ministry is beginning among us.  Adventure Ministry will be an opportunity to gather with other members to go hiking, paddle boarding and much more.  You might also want to join a group that is newly providing meals for the homeless at St. Andrew’s Episcopal church once a month.  Our ministries are ever expanding.  Where will you spend the moments God has given you?  Whether hiking, ASL class, choir, feeding ministry, . . .  or the many places you offer and receive grace; I give thanks for you and the light you bear to the world.  I give thanks for Donna and the light she offered the world.

May the hours of this week, be of gift and grace for you.  Thank you for your partnership in this ministry we share.

In Christ,

Pastor Laura