Janeen Smith, Pastor ~ 26418 Mountain Highway E, Spanaway, WA ~ 253-847-8801

Pastor's Message

Bethany Lutheran Church

May 5, 2021

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, mis amigos! Margaritas (con o sin tequila), ¿alguien?

Happy Cinco de Mayo, my friends! Margaritas (with or without tequila), anyone?

For our prayers:

  • Steve Vert is awaiting a surgery date for carpal tunnel syndrome in both his hands. Please pray for patience in this time of waiting for Steve, for relief from pain, and for surgery to be scheduled soon.
  • Keith Sandor is sick with probable Covid-19 back in Pennsylvania (he has not yet been tested).  Please pray for strength and fast healing for Keith.
  • Mike Marion has been notified of a job assignment change he has been hopeful for.  Please give thanks to our loving God for this gift of new opportunity.

As I’ve been working with the lessons for Sunday, I am reminded of Fred Rogers, who visited many of our homes via television for years with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Why?, you may ask – well, this week’s lessons all focus on love – God’s love for us and for Jesus, Jesus’ love for the Father and for us, Jesus’ command for us to love one another as we’ve been loved – and Jesus says that we are his friends when we follow his commands.  That’s how I got to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood!  

Fred Rogers would walk onto our screens and we would hear these lyrics:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood / A beautiful day for a neighbor / Would you be mine? Could you be mine? / It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood / A neighborly day for a beauty / Would you be mine? Could you be mine? / I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you / I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you / So let’s make the most of this beautiful day / Since we’re together, we might as well say / Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? / Won’t you please? Won’t you please? / Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Day after day, Fred Rogers helped children and adults to not be self-centered and afraid or unwilling to embrace our neighbors. While he didn’t preach, his message was 100% consistent with Jesus’ command to his disciples and with our other lessons this week.

Here are our readings for the 6th Sunday of Easter, May 9, along with introductions and reflection suggestions:

First Reading: Acts 10:44-48

While Peter shares the good news of Jesus with a Gentile soldier and his family, the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Recognizing that the Spirit works inclusively in the lives of both Jews and Gentiles, Peter commands that these Gentiles also be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

44While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Reflection: It is really worth reading the whole of chapter 10 for the wonderful story of the work of the Holy Spirit. Have you experienced being surprised by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit? What prejudices and expectations did you have to re-examine?

Psalm 98

1Sing a new song to the Lord, who has done marvelous things,
whose right hand and holy arm have won the victory.
2O Lord, you have made known your victory,
you have revealed your righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3You remember your steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands;
lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing. 
5Sing to the Lord| with the harp,
with the harp and the voice of song.
6With trumpets and the sound of the horn
shout with joy before the king, the Lord.
7Let the sea roar, and all that fills it,
the world and those who dwell therein.
8Let the rivers clap their hands,
and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord, who comes to judge the earth.
9The Lord will judge the world with righteousness
and the peoples with equity. 

Reflection: Earth itself becomes the instrument of this new song, “Let the sea roar and all that fills it.” The rivers are mentioned as well, clapping their hands, and the hills singing their song. All the earth praises the God who rules over all. What is your favorite hymn? Why? What words or music move you? How is this music a comfort to you?

Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-6
God’s children believe that Jesus is the Messiah and love God by keeping God’s commandments. Thus the world is conquered not through military might but through love and faith.
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
 6This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

Reflection: Take some time and meditate on being “born of God.”   What did you discover about yourself?   What truth does the Spirit speak to you?

Gospel Reading: John 15:9-17

On the night of his arrest, Jesus delivers a final testimony to his disciples to help them in the days ahead. Here, he repeats the most important of all his commands, that they love one another.

[Jesus said:] 9“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
 12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

Reflection: We are invited to see, and continue, in that communal relationship (born in Baptism) that we have with God and with one another. This is a challenge in the face of the individualism of our society. When has your church community nurtured you? When have you struggled to remain part of your faith community instead of going your own way?

Sing along with our hymn for today, Breathe on Me, Breath of God - https://youtu.be/M5keJHZdWYM

Sleep well and rise refreshed and attentive to the Spirit’s leading,
Pastor Janeen