Great things continue to happen at Bethlehem but, of course, that doesn’t mean everything is easy or that everything is as it should be. A week ago Tuesday we took a day away as a staff and spent some time talking about “hard things” happening at Bethlehem. It will be hard to give away Kurt and Jill Swanson to the Malinke people of Guinea and to send Phaitoon Hathamart back to Thailand. It will be hard to give Char back to public school teaching. It will be even harder to replace them on the staff. It has been hard to watch people die—some expectedly, some unexpectedly. Nine people from our church have died in the last twelve weeks. Two have been by suicide. There is much grief.
Furthermore, we are aware of many of you who are courageously dealing with painful issues in your life, things you thought were over and done with but now are resurfacing. This process is painful at times. It is hard to hear grace, let alone experience it. And then there are questions about SPAN the Nineties. Are we on the three year, six year, or nine year track? Can we really keep focused during this time? We have found out that Hacking will cost more to remodel than we thought, so what should we do? We also realize that even though many new people are being folded into the family at Bethlehem, others are still falling through the cracks, and you might feel like you are one of them.
What do we as a church need at this juncture of our life together? Well, among other things, we need to talk. Many of you remember (and miss!) the Popcorn with the Pastor times we used to have. Some have felt the need to have a forum once again to ask questions, give suggestions, brainstorm, and share concerns about the direction of the church. The staff feels this need as well. So on Sunday, April 10th, after the evening service we will have “Open Forum.” You are all invited to the Chapel. The pastoral staff will be there and Toshavim will provide root beer floats. There will be no pre-arranged agenda. You will set the agenda by your comments, questions, etc. We want to hear what you think needs to be talked about at Bethlehem. If this week’s Open Forum seems to meet a need we are prepared to continue it on a regular basis.
We also need to pray. A couple weeks ago many of you made the commitment to gather at least once a month to pray with God’s people at this critical hour of Bethlehem’s history. If you didn’t make that commitment when you turned in your SPAN the Nineties card, would you make it now? There are five opportunities each week to fulfill your once-a-month commitment:
- Wednesdays at 7:15 in the Chapel;
- Sunday mornings at 8:15, 9:45 or 11:15 in the Prayer Room (on the third floor as you walk into the sanctuary on the organ side);
- Sunday afternoon at 5:00 in the Chapel.
Childcare is available except during the Sunday afternoon prayer time. Please take your commitment seriously.
Eager to talk and pray together,
Pastor Tom & Pastor John