We are glad that you are visiting our site! Please have a look around and see for yourself what makes the people that gather in this place a family. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Join us Sundays in July and August at Bethlehem as we begin a new sermon series titled, “I Believe.” We’ll be taking a closer look at the Apostles’ Creed line by line, learning why each line was included in the creed and how it applies to us today. Services begin at 8:30 am (traditional) and 11:00 am (contemporary) every Sunday morning.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Paul talks about building the family of God—part of our mission statement here at Bethlehem—in Ephesians 2:22: In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. God is both the builder and the foundation—as Paul writes, “in Him,” meaning Christ. A few years ago, we hosted Dr. Brandt from Concordia University to lead us in some planning and he reminded us to see “what God is blessing” and continue to do that. So, as we reach the mid-point of 2019, what can we see?
This month, we welcomed more than 170 children into our midst for the “Roar!” Vacation Bible School. One of our goals in building the family of God here is to welcome people from our community into our building. God seems to have blessed that goal with these children and the volunteers who served them. Our Evangelism Team will be following up with those families to see if we can further connect with them. Next month, we will be hosting up to three families transitioning from homelessness into our building through the Family Promise project. We are still looking for hosts, if God is nudging you that way.
God is both the builder and the foundation
Another goal we identified is to “rebuild and strengthen” our network of small groups and Bible studies. To that end, this past month two groups of members met. One group met to explore the strengthening of our small group network by training new leaders and creating new and strengthening our existing small groups. These LIFE+CONNECT leaders will be trained this summer and our small group network highlighted this coming Rally Day on September 8. Another group met to talk about forming an “Empathy Team” that would care for our members in three areas. I’m looking for someone to coordinate meals for members experiencing need or loss. We have several people interested in being trained to be “listeners” to folks who
are looking to have someone come along side with them as their journey gets difficult. We have a few people who want to visit our members who are homebound or hospitalized. If any of this sounds like something in which you’d like to participate, let me know.
At the June voters meeting, we decided to begin a Capital Campaign this Fall to reduce our debt. We will be working with an organization/friend with whom I worked in Colorado on a similar project. We would like to “free up” money currently paid to service our mortgage for other ministries that would help us meet our goals and “build the family of God through relationship with Jesus Christ.” You will be hearing more in the near future about this effort.
Our God has also been blessing our Preschool—pray for more children and families to be touched by this ministry—and our efforts to send our members out into our community. I wanted you to be informed about these items as June ends. Please continue to keep all of our efforts in your prayers, seeking our Lord’s continued guidance and blessing.
Joy in the journey,
Pastor Jeff Shearier
Join us June 17th through June 21st for Bethlehem’s “Roar!” VBS! All children entering 4 year old Pre-K through 6th grade next fall are invited to attend! This epic African adventure engages the whole herd. At Roar, kids explore God’s goodness and celebrate a ferocious faith that powers them through this wild life.
Thanks to a generous donation, Bethlehem’s VBS will be completely free this year!
When life is unfair…God is good!
“The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes.” Nahum 1:7
The Israelites are slaves for the Egyptians. Exodus 1; 5; 6
When life is scary…God is good!
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4
God sends plagues on Egypt. Exodus 7:14-12:32
When life changes…God is good!
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1
The Israelites enter the wilderness. Exodus 14-17
When life is sad…God is good!
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” Psalm 34:18
Jesus dies and comes back to life. John 16-21
When life is good…God is good!
“Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious.” Nehemiah 4:14
The Israelites build a memorial to remember God’s goodness. Joshua 3-4
Ascending Downward: Excerpted from Chad Bird
Take a look at these four sentences: He’s moving up in the company. She’s coming down with the flu. Things are sure looking up for them. I’ve been feeling kind of down lately.
Down is bad, up is good. These aren’t willy-nilly choices. Our bodies lead our linguistics. We associate “down” with sickness, collapsing in exhaustion, and dying, while “up” is iconic of vivacity, standing strong, health. Our positive and negative experiences are mapped onto the metaphorical language we use.
Even heaven is “up there” and hell is “down there,” right?
We all get this. But helpful as it may be, it really screws with our heads when it comes to something very important: the ascension, the “going up” of Jesus.
Some theological explanations of the ascension resemble a man climbing a tree to search for gold. Of course, the fellow’s gone in the completely wrong direction. He’ll never find gold “up there.” He’ll only find it “down here.” By mining, by digging, by channeling into the earth, he’ll discover gold.
…his enthronement as King of Kings, is his climactic, regal descent.
So it is with the gold of the ascension. It’s not about what’s happening up there in heaven but down here on earth. Christ’s sitting at the right hand of the Father, his enthronement as King of Kings, is his climactic, regal descent.
You see, dual things are happening simultaneously at the ascension. On the one hand, yes, Jesus does go up. While his disciples crane their necks to the skies, Jesus rises like a hot air balloon and slips inside a cloud (Acts 1:9-11). On the other hand, he goes up precisely in order to do what? To come down, to permeate all creation with his presence, to rule over all things in such a way that no place is outside him.
Christ ascends into heaven in order to descend fully into this world, into the lives of his people. The ascension is the dénouement of the incarnation. Jesus has entered his glory “in such a way that he knows everything, is able to do everything, is present for all his creatures, and has under his feet and in his hands all that is in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, not only as God but also as human creature” (Formula of Concord, Epitome, VIII.11 He has “entered his glory” (Luke 24:26) to glorify us by our incorporation into his body through the earthly element of baptismal water. The water down here.
Precisely because he is seated at the right hand of the Father, he is seated at the right hand of the father who holds the tiny hand of his baby girl in the NICU.
Because all things are under his feet, Christ is there with us when all the nastiness and ugliness of life tramples us under its own feet.
And best of all, because in his body he ascended to the highest throne in heaven, he puts that body into us as we gather down here around his altar-throne. Whether it’s a makeshift table in the middle of a bombed-out battlefield or a bejeweled altar ensconced within a cathedral, that place is where heaven is down here and earth is up there. Jesus ascends downward to lift us upward by putting his body into our body, his blood into our blood.
It doesn’t matter how far down we go in this life, we cannot go so far down, that Jesus is not there to meet us face-to-face. Every time our shattered hearts say, “Out of the depths have I cried to you, O Lord,” from deeper within those depths comes the voice of our Savior, “Out of the depths have I loved you and prayed for you, my precious child.”
The ascension is the ultimate descension of God. Down into our world, down into the ocean of our tears, down into the sewers of our shame, down into the rubble of our broken dreams, the Lord of life descends to save us, to bring us home, to heal us with his merciful touch.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t fathom more uplifting good news than our down-coming God of grace.
Joy in the journey,
Pastor Jeff Shearier