Monday, September 1, 2008

Pastor Erik--September 2008

All this summer we have been focusing on mission in our neighborhood. We hosted a neighborhood BBQ, delivered lots of fliers, watched movies out on our lawn with our neighbors, attended the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association meeting, and have even started digging up our property in order to make it more welcoming and accessible to our neighbors. We’ve learned that we don’t really know our neighbors very well at all, and that our neighbors don’t really know each other either. But we’ve also learned that God is up to something in our neighborhood, and is calling us to be a part of it—getting to know our neighbors is just the first step in figuring out just what this is, and this will be a process that continues throughout the year and beyond. The word is out, Bethlehem Lutheran wants to be an active part of this neighborhood again. It will be fun to see what God does with this desire.

As we move into fall, we’re shifting our mission focus just a bit. We kick off September with a number of events that draw us into thinking about what God is up to not only near us, but all over the world. Our Global Mission team has put together a huge slate of events this year. On Sunday, September 7th we’ll be joined by Rev. Mark Nelson, assistant to the bishop, who will fill us in on our companion Synod in Tanzania. He’s recently back from a trip there and the installation of their new bishop so he’s chock full of stories about what God is doing through our partnership with this other Synod.

Then on Saturday, September 13th we’re having a Fair Trade Fair featuring food and crafts from around the world that have been made without harming people, the environment, or local communities. But don’t think this is just a shopping day (though it is a great time to pick up Christmas gifts for loved ones). It’s going to be an emersion experience designed to give us a taste of life in Tanzania.

The high point of all of this will be our Global Mission Festival Worship on Sunday, September 14th. From our summer worship space downstairs we’ll be journeying back up to the sanctuary. And with drums and music from around the world we will worship God with joy and energy. We’ll hear several “mission homilies” throughout the service, including a live video feed from Africa with missionaries Arden and Susan Strasser. This is one Sunday you won’t want to miss!

With all this talk of global mission, I hope you don’t think I intend us to ignore the local missions we participate in as well. It is my sincere prayer that through local and neighborhood missions we will be stirred to wonder about what God is up to around the world and how we can be a part of it. And in the same way, I pray that through global missions we will be stirred to wonder about what God is up to closer to home and how we can be a part of it. God is loose in the world, both here and far away. Its time to celebrate what God is up to and get on board!