May 2017

LOOKING BACK, MOVING FORWARD
Pastor Loren Mai

       On Sunday, June 4, the Church celebrates the Day of Pentecost. Jewish tradition held that the Law was given on this day, seven weeks after Passover. On the Day of Pentecost, not long after Jesus had ascended into heaven, devout Jews from around the known world were in Jerusalem to observe the festival. The disciples of Jesus were gathered for the festival too, and it was on that day—according to St. Luke—that the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus, came to the disciples. There were signs and wonders to reveal to the followers of Jesus that a new force was unleashed in the world. That force continues to be unleashed in the followers of Jesus of every age, including our own. The Church celebrates the Day of Pentecost as the “birthday of the Church,” as it is sometimes called. So, seven weeks after Easter, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the early Church and to us.

       But who is the Holy Spirit? Jesus promised His followers a guide or advocate that would help them after He, Jesus, was gone from their presence. This guide—the Holy Spirit—would enable Jesus’ followers to experience their Master in new ways. This Spirit would reveal Jesus to the world through the disciples of Jesus. The Spirit would empower the disciples of Jesus for their mission of love and forgiveness. The Spirit would continue to make the Risen Christ present to individual Christians and to the collective Church. It is through the Spirit that believers of every age of history are united in Je-sus. The Spirit enables persons to believe in Jesus and the grace of God He brings. We know this Spirit as the third person of the God-head, who with the Father and the Son comprise the Triune God.

       These are theological understandings of the Holy Spirit—who is really a complete mystery to everyone! What we can say, simply, is that the Spirit gives us the faith to believe and trust in Jesus. The Spirit helps us to say “Jesus is Lord,” and then to live as if that is the case. What we celebrate on the Day of Pentecost is that God doesn’t give up on the Church. For nearly 2,000 years the Holy Spirit has brought Jesus to us. Through all the challenges the Church has faced, the Holy Spirit has guided the followers of Jesus. As great a mystery as the Spirit is, that Spirit is with us now and into the future—keeping us steadfast in faith in Jesus Christ. Come and experience the Holy Spirit at work in Bethany Lutheran Church!

Pastor Loren Mai

A WORD FROM PHIL

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands— O prosper the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

       Hard work, dedication, perseverance. These are some of the Midwest values that we Kan-sans hold dear. We pride ourselves in what we make, what we build, and what we grow. We pride ourselves in the life we create for ourselves and our descendants. We pride ourselves in a job well done and a life well lived. When we leave this earth we want the memory of our life to be one of joy and accomplishment. This is all good because what we do on this earth matters. How we live, what we accomplish and most importantly, how we love others matters.

       So we pray the prayer of the Psalmist, O prosper the work of our hands! God knows that what we do on this earth is important because God created the world we live in. God created the life we experience and those we experience it with. God also created us as agents in this world with the free will and the desire to do good. It is good to create a better world for yourself and for those around you. Not only is it a good thing, it is the desire of the one who creates life and created us to live it abundantly.

       So often in the church we focus on the hereafter. That is ok. After all the primary mission of the church is to preach the Good News of God’s grace and mercy in our lives. But we cannot ignore the present in hope of tomorrow. We cannot ignore this life and all the good we can do because our eyes only see the eternal good of God’s promise.

       O prosper the work of our hands! We pray this prayer to keep us focused on today while liv-ing in the promise of tomorrow. May the work of your hands be pleasing to the Lord and may they point to the eternal promise of God’s grace. Furthermore, may the work of your hands bring happi-ness to others, daily.

       Go in peace and serve the Lord!

Phillip Hett