August 2017

Pastor Loren Mai

       Greetings to you in the name of Christ! I am Jim Strasen, a retired ELCA pastor. I have agreed to serve you on a part-time basis while Pastor Mai is on sabbatical, specifically during the months of Au-gust, September, and October. My wife is Miriam Strasen. She is a retired teacher, mother and grand-mother, and organist/pianist. She has agreed to serve you as the bell choir director, so look for infor-mation on the re-formed bell choir. We have five children, fourteen grandchildren, and ten (or maybe eleven by now) great-grandchildren. One of our children, Amy Truhe, recently accepted the call to be the pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church and the campus pastor at Bethany College here in Lindsborg. If you need pastoral care in the coming three months, please contact Melanie in the church office or contact me directly. I look forward to serving with you in the coming months.

       The Gospel text for the first Sunday in August is the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand in Mat-thew’s Gospel. Jesus asks the disciples to give the hungry crowds something to eat. They become a bit frantic. All they have are five loaves of bread and two fish. How can that possibly feed five thou-sand men plus women and children?

       That ought to sound familiar. “All I have is a little time each week! How can I do anything to help out at church?” “All I have is a few dollars beyond my monthly needs! How can my few dollars help with the many needs of our parish?” “All I have are a few simple abilities! How can I possibly do anything of value in the congregation?”

       But notice how Jesus answers the disciples. “Bring them here to me.” In effect he tells them to use what they have, and Jesus will bless the results. Five loaves of bread and two fish feed five thousand men plus women and children, and they have leftovers! Why do we doubt that Jesus can use our mea-ger gifts and abilities to advance his mission and ministry through Bethany Lutheran Church?

       The Lord will use your gifts to enable your parish to feed one another and others with God’s Word of forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ. If God can bring life out of Jesus’ death, will God not also use the meager gifts we bring to raise up new life in us, among us, and through us? This is most certainly true!

       May the Lord bless our worship and service and life together as we live out our lives as God’s beloved children, proclaiming God’s love and grace in Christ to the world!

In the Love and Joy of Christ,
Pastor Jim

A WORD FROM PHIL

Proverbs 22:6 Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.

       August is here which means it is back to school time. Parents are buying supplies and new shoes, teachers are getting their classrooms in order, and soon the college students will be heading back to their dorms. Yes, school is coming. Pictures will be taken, book bags stuffed, and good-byes said. Life moves forward. Education truly is a blessing from God and receiving one at any age is a very fortunate gift to be treasured.

       I would like to once again take some time to thank the people of this congregation in supporting me in my schooling endeavors. As most of you know, I am in the distance program at Luther Seminary and this fall I will begin my fourth year. My expected graduation date will be May of 2019. It is a big program and the distance degree is designed to be completed in 5-6 years so I am right on track. It is a blended online and residential format with a third of the classes required as residential. My fall and spring semesters are online with January and June intensives on the campus in St. Paul, MN. I have made six of those trips to campus with four more to go. I am slowly marching towards the finish line!

       This fall marks a new leg in the journey as I will be doing my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). CPE is basically clinical chaplaincy at a hospital which combines class work and hands on training. I will be doing my CPE work at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. What it entails is one day a week of class on Tuesdays and then one night a week of on-call chaplaincy at the hospital. My CPE will run from the end of August through December. It will be a lot of driving back and forth, but I am very excited for this new adventure! (If I seem a little tired or frazzled this semester, you will know why).

       My job responsibilities here at Bethany Lutheran will remain the same. I am very grateful for the opportunities this church has given me as I continue to grow in my calling. I am even more grateful for the love and support of my church family here at Bethany Lutheran. This is a wonderful congregation and a great place to work. I feel truly blessed to be here. Most of all it is a wonderful place for my wife and me to raise our girls as part of this greater church family.

       Thank you very much and may God bless our ministry together as we strive to proclaim God’s message of grace and mercy in Lindsborg and to the greater world.

Phillip Hett