5pm at Bethlehem on Christmas Eve
Worship includes the Christmas Story, plenty of carols, an extensive children’s sermon, and Holy Communion. Hope to see you there!
To recognize Bethlehem’s 140th birthday and our covenant’s 5thanniversary, we will spend 2016 reading through the entire Bible together. The Bibles we’re using (Daily Bible NIV: In Chronological Order) have been given out as gifts. Everyone is invited to read along however much you can, whether or not you attend the Bible study itself. Reflection/discussion questions will also be provided in each newsletter, printed on handouts, and sent over email for each week. Let’s discover how God has worked through time – together!
Why Read Through the Whole Bible?
The Bible can be difficult to read at times. Some of it seems so archaic, or the language is hard to understand, or the historical context is unfamiliar to us. While biblical literacy among Christians used to be a given, today few people have a working knowledge of scripture, nor do they understand the arch of the biblical story. And yet, this is the story of our faith – not just the New Testament, but also the Old. When we are not familiar with the Old Testament (or “Hebrew Bible”), it is like walking in on the end of the conversation: you get a sense of what the conversation was about and can feel the energy, but don’t know why everyone is feeling that way or why what was just said matters.
Our Bible-in-a-year Bible study will be an opportunity to get a sense of the arch of the story of salvation history. While a conventional Bible is organized by type of literature (Torah/Law, History, Poetry, Prophets, Gospels, Letters…), the Bible we are using has put the readings in chronological order, so we get a sense of how things fit together through time. So for example, if a prophet was speaking/writing during the time period covered in one of the history books, those readings will occur near each other.
Our hope is that by the end of this year, you will have had a memorable and meaningful encounter with the Word of God, that you will have a deeper sense of how the story of salvation history hangs together, and that you will find biblical witness becomes something that can be applied and incorporated into your daily life, and not just something of which you hear bits of pieces on Sunday mornings. In short, we hope that scripture will become as the Psalmist writes:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Each congregation meets on Sundays after worship at their respective churches. On the 2nd weekend of each month, we meet on Saturday morning instead (so, no Sunday). These gatherings will be all together, both congregations, led by Pastor Johanna, and will include a light breakfast. If you miss one, return here to see the materials that were handed out posted under the month of the gathering. The dates for Saturdays are as follows:
January 9 @ BLC
Introduction to the Torah (2016)
February 13 @ SMLC
February Bible Study (Law)
March 12 @ BLC
March Bible Study (Deut History)
May 7 @ BLC (Note: this is the 1st Saturday instead of the 2nd as other months!)
May Daily Bible study (Solomon, temple, wisdom)
June 11 @ SMLC
June Bible Study (Divided kingdom)
July 9 @ BLC
August 13 @ SMLC
September 10 @ BLC
September Bible Study (restoration)
October 8 @ SMLC
Guide to the Gospels
November 12 @ BLC
December 10 @ SMLC
Our Prayer Garden Dedication this weekend was so beautiful! We had a good crowd, we sang songs, prayed, and offered thanksgiving for this space, the people who made it possible, and the people who will use it. Then we enjoyed it along with some cookies! We hope you will find a time to come and use it, and tell your friends to come as well!
Community Prayer Garden Dedication
Saturday August 1st, 2015 10am
After years of dreaming and planning, we will be dedicating our Community Prayer Garden this week. We will gather in the garden (rain or shine!) for a service of morning prayer that includes a time for blessing and dedication of this gift. The service will last only about 20-30 minutes, but we hope you will linger to enjoy this beautiful place.
Our hope for this space is that it will be used by the community as much as our own members, that it will be a place of respite and peace, and place where people can find and be with some sense of the divine, whether or not they share our particular Christian beliefs. So even if you are unable to attend the dedication, please know that the space exists and is open for all to use at any time it is needed for prayer.
NOTE: There is some seating available, but most people will be standing throughout the service, so plan accordingly. You also may want to be bring mosquito repellent.
~ The Story of the Prayer Garden ~
Prayer has long been a part of the character of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Today, this is enacted through an active prayer chain, as well as a group who meets for prayer each Wednesday throughout the year. Several years ago, a couple members had a vision for the little grove of trees near the parking lot: to create a garden that would serve as a respite and a place for people to sit amidst God’s beautiful creation and pray.
Though there was energy around the idea, the hopeful spot for the garden was too swampy to create a pathway. But a conversation with Bruce Zaretsky of Zaretsky and Associates, Inc. opened a new possibility: a boardwalk, surrounded by shade- and water-loving plants. Bethlehem eagerly agreed to the idea, and Zaretsky finished building the boardwalk he designed in 2013.
Shortly thereafter, Jason Leisten cleared out a walkway through some nearby trees. This offers a sort of extension to the boardwalk, and an even more secluded place to seek God. In the future, we hope this will also have benches and scripture, and will lead to a large walking labyrinth in the shape of a rose, as a nod to the history this area, formerly known as Roseland.
Some members have a connection to Scout Troop 113, and invited one of the scouts to design and build some benches for the garden. Will Dorfner took on the idea for his Eagle Scout project, and in 2014, the benches were complete.
Meanwhile, several members donated plants – some purchased, some taken right out of their own gardens. As a result, the plants represent not only current members, but in some cases, also members who had previously shared plants and have since passed away. The growth in the garden truly represents the cloud of witnesses by which we are surrounded.
We wanted a place where people could leave their prayer requests, to be prayed for by other users of the garden, which would tie us all together even more. Many years ago, Robert Panneitz had built a small mailbox in the shape of Bethlehem. Kevin O’Grady fixed up that original mailbox and made it look clean and sharp to add a gracious entry point to the garden where people can take or leave prayers.
The final touch was to add scripture to the garden. Our weekly prayer group brainstormed what short verses they would like present to help people focus their prayers, and we choose seven, since seven is the biblical number of completion. Rochester Signs and Graphics made the plaques for us and installed them in July, 2015.
The prayer garden was dedicated on August 1, 2015, and we hope it will be in use for many years to come!
Many thanks to all who helped make our 2015 Strawberry Social another huge success. Despite warnings of thunderstorms all day, we ended up with a beautiful, warm, slightly breezing evening, with lots of happy, full people of all ages. Many people enjoyed walking around our prayer garden, and we even had a magician entertaining folks (thanks, Magic Mike!).
A couple folks from South Wedge Mission came (Pastor Matthew and member Caroline) to tell people about the mission this year’s social supported, and they were very grateful to meet some of their mission partners. After expenses, we will be able to give them about $1000 toward the work they do in the South Wedge. Praise God!
Here are some pictures from the event:
If you’ve been following the newsletter and/or bulletin, you know that last week our nine confirmands (two from BLC and seven from SMLC) presented their confirmation projects. Those members who attended were very pleased to be there, but many who wanted to were unable, so I thought I’d write a little overview of that special evening.
All nine of the students really came through. This is the first year we have done projects, so they had no models – they were the guinea pigs! The assignment was to come up with a presentation about 4-5 minutes long in which they talked about where they are in their faith journey, having come to the end of their time in confirmation. I encouraged them to be creative, to use their hobbies or interests as a vehicle for describing their faith (for example, a youth interested in photography might choose to do a photography project in which they took pictures that reminded them of the different parts of the catechism, or particular Bible stories). The idea was to express themselves and their life of faith in whatever way made sense to them.
Most of the kids took the straightforward approach of simply telling the story of their faith, starting with their baptism. Many included pictures from this event, as well as from their confirmation (often with the same people present!). They talked about their favorite parts of the Bible, what they had learned about God, and what from their time in confirmation they appreciated, and what they will carry on with them into high school, college, and the rest of their lives. It was very heartening to hear that some of the things we talked about have really stuck with them in a meaningful way – such as that God is ever-forgiving, and different ways we can pray and talk to God. One confirmand, who is an athlete several times over, chose to find various passages in the Bible that speak to sports or use sports analogies, and talk about what he had learned about being a good athlete from these parts of the Bible. (He even found several that I was not familiar with!) Another made an acrostic out of the word “Confirmation,” highlighting one word or concept for each letter that had something to do with what we had learned together. Some included pictures of themselves serving in church somehow, and printed off texts we had studied that were important to them. A couple wrote moving essays about how their understanding of God and the church and their place in the church had changed for the better, and how eager they are to continue to be involved in the life of the church.
All in all, their teachers and parents and mentors were beaming with pride for the confirmands’ willingness to stand in front of a group of people and talk about their faith! We could all take a lesson from them and do such thoughtful reflection on our faith, and be so willing to share that reflection with others.
Thank you to all of our young confirmands, and to their families and mentors for supporting them and praying for them through these years. We are so grateful to have you among us!
Warm weather is finally here, so at Bethlehem we’ve got STRAWBERRIES on the brain! That’s right, we are gearing up for our annual Strawberry Social. Here are the details:
When: Thursday, June 18, 4pm until gone.
Who: the whole family, and all your friends!
Menu: Beef BBQ dinner ($8) or hot dog dinner ($7), which includes main course, two sides/salads, and drink. Desserts (including strawberry shortcake, other cakes, ice cream…) are a la carte, and range in price from $1.50 to $4.50.
Why: For food, fellowship, and strawberries, obviously, but in addition, all proceeds from this event will go to support the South Wedge Mission, a new and growing ministry of the Lutheran and Episcopal Church. This fledgling church is doing all kinds of great things in their part of the city. Bethlehem is proud to be one of their mission partners, helping them to get this ministry off the ground. Some folks from the Mission will be with us to share more about the wonderful ministry that is happening there.
Note: if you would like to help, see the bulletin board in the fellowship hall to sign up for where you can be most helpful, both in preparation and in serving on the day of the event.
Looking for a fun evening you can enjoy with your whole family? How about one that includes dinner, with tons of different activities, something for everyone to enjoy? You’re in luck! We are planning a Family Night at the Bayview Y!
Event includes: use of Epi-center (climbing rope maze, video games attached to bikes, gaga floor, and balls to use in that area), pool, gathering room, gymnasium (with either inflatables, or we can use the entire space for basketball or otherwise), craft, and snacks. We’ll also order some pizzas, so you don’t even have to worry about cooking dinner.
This evening of fun begins at 6pm on Friday, May 1. Pool will be open and staffed until 9:30; other activities close at 8pm. Bayview Y is located at 1209 Bay Rd, Webster, 14580.
This event is a chance to have fun with the whole family, and also to get to know parents and families of school-age children from both St. Martin and Bethlehem. We hope this will also plant some relationship seeds for our up-and-coming youth group, both between the kids and between families. To that end, families with school-age children are especially encouraged to attend, but all are welcome!
(NOTE: You do NOT have to be a member at the Y to come.)