Bethany Newsletter – July 2018
There is a bench in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that seems to have an unproductive purpose. You don’t do much on the bench except sit and look at the creek and the waterfalls. People probably don’t get a lot checked off their to-do list when they are sitting there.
The whole idea of national parks seems unproductive to some people. A lot of valuable land has been set aside. One of the main things that happens in the parks is people doing what I did recently when I was at the Great Smoky Mountains: they go for hikes and enjoy the artistry of what God has made.
As I spent a day driving and hiking in the woods and looking at creeks and waterfalls, I was thankful this land had been set aside for people to enjoy its beauty. It is possible God made some places not for us to build on or grow food on or extract metals from but just for us to look at and enjoy.
Taking time to enjoy God’s beautiful artwork can teach us about God and ourselves and bring renewal to our soul. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). David took some time and sat on his version of a park bench and considered the work of God’s fingers. Contemplating the majesty of what God had made spoke to him about the greatness of God, his smallness in comparison and the wonder that the God of creation cared for him. What a wonder it is that the God of creation loves us and came to save us.
The waterfalls make some noise but the message of God’s creation is much greater than simply water flowing over rocks. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). The mountains, the ocean, the creeks, the trees, the waterfalls; they declare the wisdom of God, the power of God, the skillfulness of God, the creativity of God. It is good to go for a hike or sit on a bench and pray for ears of faith that can hear what God’s artwork has to say to us.
Some of us feel guilty if we take time to sit on a bench and look at some waterfalls. We have so much we think we have to do. People may think we’re lazy if we just sit on a bench and enjoy the beauty in front of us. We need to spend more time thinking about God’s great work and less time worrying about what people may think. It is okay to have some time when we’re not doing but instead thinking about what the Lord has done. Time spent looking at some of God’s beautiful artwork and reflecting on what it teaches us isn’t wasted time. It can be very productive time as it can deepen our understanding and refresh our soul. Take some bench time this summer and find rest and renewal in the beauty of what God has made.
Vacation Bible School will be July 9-13, 9 a.m.-Noon, for kids 3-years-old to 6th grade. Fun and learning will happen as we think about the theme: “Shipwrecked: Rescued by Jesus.” Pray for this special time of reaching kids with the good news of Jesus. Pray about who you’ll invite to come. Volunteers to help with VBS are always appreciated. Areas in which you can help include decorating, crafts, games, publicity, registration and assisting in the classes. Thanks to all those who have helped already in all the preparations. Everyone is invited to a VBS program that will be held on Friday, July 13 at noon. A lunch will follow.
The Joshua team from the Association Free Lutheran Bible School will be with us for the week to help with VBS. The team members are: Cody Halverson, Rachel Holland, Jessica Green and Ignacio Davalos. If you’d like to host them for a meal or provide them with a meal during the week, sign up on the church bulletin board.
On July 4 starting at 6:30 p.m. we’ll have a bbq picnic and 4th of July celebration in the church parking lot. After the bbq the movie The Resurrection of Gavin Stone will be shown in the sanctuary. After the movie we’ll watch the fireworks from the parking lot. Everyone is invited to come and bring a friend. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided. If you’d like to bring a salad, chips or dessert to share you are welcome to do so.
AFLC Annual Conference
Our church body, the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, held its Annual Conference June 12-15 in Dickinson, North Dakota. Conferences are times for spiritual renewal. The spiritual renewal and encouragement began with the opening service of the conference, at which three recent graduates of the Free Lutheran Seminary were ordained for the ministry.
Other times of spiritual renewal took place during the regular prayer times each day and the worship services each evening. Also during the conference there were some workshops and teaching sessions on topics such as: What is a free and living congregation? Information on a new church soon to begin in San Antonio, Texas. Presentations by Lutherans for Life.
Business sessions were held during the conference with elections of people to various boards and committees. Pastor Terry Olson was elected the new vice president of the AFLC. A new Home Missions Director was introduced: Pastor Jim L. Johnson, who has been pastoring a congregation in Camarillo, Calif. Resolutions on the various parts of the work of the AFLC were put forth and discussed and voted on by the conference. The departments also had the opportunity to share about their area of the work. Next year’s annual conference will be held June 2019 in the Pocono Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania.
Men’s breakfast will be Saturday, July 7 at 8 a.m. If you’d like to help prepare the breakfast talk with Pastor Craig.
Women’s Missionary Federation will meet Thur. July 12 at 1 p.m. All ladies are invited.
A congregation quarterly meeting will be held following the worship service on Sunday July 29.
Everyone is invited to our annual outdoor worship service and church picnic. It will be held at Cullaby Lake, Sunday, July 15, starting at 11:00 a.m. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided. You’re welcome to bring a salad, chips, veggies or dessert to
share if you’d like.
Pastor Craig will be gone on vacation Sunday, July 1. Holy Communion will be celebrated on Sunday, July 8.