Dear people of Bethlehem,

It is August.  A time when we wish the pandemic was over, but it is not.  A time when the nations of the world gather for the Olympics and we see a vision of a world united, if only for a moment.  It is a time when most of us are traveling to see family for the first time in almost two years and the reunions are full of grace.  A time to be God’s people, the body of Christ, in a world that increasingly needs the incarnation of love and grace in its midst.

We are not Jesus in the world, we are but those who worship him.  We are not perfect by any means, we are but those who seek to live according to the love and grace laid in us.  Imperfect though we be, in need of grace though we regularly are, I am always amazed at the power of the church for good, in the world.  St. Paul tells us that we are the body of Christ.  Every sinew and ligament, we are bound together, not by how similar we are to one another, but by how similarly we cling to Christ.  How common is our hope and how certain our faith, regardless of the day.

God joys in our differences as we each offer our unique voice in making better this world.  Today I am celebrating and giving thanks for the voice and unique love of Pauline Benson.  Long time member of Bethlehem, Pauline died suddenly this week and I have spent this week with her smile in my mind’s eye, and my heart giving thanks for her kindness and unique joy.  God bless this saint of God, and her witness to Christ’s love, as she now claims eternity’s promise.  God bless you and your witness to Christ’s love in this world every day.  We have but a brief time to make glad this world in Jesus’ name.   I give thanks for you and the ways in which you do that so well.

Please join us online, on the grass, or in the sanctuary as we celebrate together God’s love in this world each Sunday.  A special invitation to you on Sunday, Sept. 19th as we go out in service to this world and in care for our neighbors on Bethlehem Serves Day.  Join us on Oct. 3rd as we gather for Octoberfest and good beer and good company.  And join us on Sunday, Nov. 7th in a celebration of Pastor Sam and Alissa’s new life together.  Join us in study and conversation as we continue to learn how to be bearers of justice in this land.

The celebration won’t be the same without you.  The body of Christ is at its fullest, because of you.  God bless you this week, as you gift the world with love and grace.  May God lay his hand on you in healing, in hope and in joy.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Laura