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The sacred stirring...

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

6/7/2021 by Rev. Daniel Smail

Dearest Members of Bethlehem, 2 Corinthians 12:5-10 5But on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. So that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh. I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. I want to start this devotion by extending my heartfelt gratitude to the whole congregation. Yesterday’s (06/06/21) recognition of my service to the church was humbling. Your kindness, care, and grace in that time was a gift that I will forever hold in my heart. Thank you, I am so very appreciative to have the privilege of sharing this journey of faith with you all. Now… This morning, I find myself in a difficult position. Those stalwart faithful souls who have been engaged in ministry for 30 and 40 years, are looking at a person like me and are likely thinking, “20 years… what’s the big deal?” I think the question is justified, but it is equally true that there are others in our congregation who are 10 years old and they may be thinking, “That guy has been preaching the Gospel for twice as long as I have been alive! Nonetheless, the truth is, I have come a long way since entering seminary in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven. And I pray, that by the grace of God, I have a ways to go before I hang up the stole. But before I get to living into the remainder of my ministry, let me admit to you that I am truly astounded that I have been able to serve for even this length of time. How did I get here? How did this happen? I have thought about this, prayed about this… and can genuinely say, that in the end, I have come to see, I had little to do with it? No, seriously, to be completely honest, I cannot take credit for much of anything. And here is just one of the reasons why… From early on in my life, I was repeatedly asked the same haunting question? “Why can’t you just sit still?” When family members asked me that question when I was a little one, I did not have an answer. When Mrs. Grafton asked me in third grade, I still did not know? When Kari, asked me last year… I was starting to come to a better understanding. Maybe, just maybe, that weakness (that inability to sit still) that I have been contending with since before birth, was a kind of thorn in the flesh. But… I am thinking more and more these days, that ever-present enthusiasm for life and creation and the people in it… that irrepressible energy that thrusts me from my slumber in the early morning and draws me to the Word and everything else, and sometimes drives others to absolute distraction (my sincerest apologies!)… may not be the worst thing. As you all know, I still, can’t sit still… it’s my thing, it’s not much, certainly not something you are supposed to put on a resume. But I am genuinely hoping it is enough to get me through the next decade of ministry. And I am also trusting in the wisdom of Paul, that somehow someway… God’s love, grace, and redemptive power will have the capacity to turn my weakness into a strength. Not for my sake, but for the sake of those that I have been so very overjoyed to enthusiastically serve over these last twenty years. Thank you. And yes… I am now headed off to find another cup of coffee. God bless you all! Question for reflection: Have you had any “weaknesses” that have turned out to be strengths? This week at Bethlehem: On Tuesday evening Congregation Council will be meeting at 7:00 via Zoom. On Wednesday evening we will gather at 6:30 at the Latrobe Shelter in North Park for our next session of “Fit Church.” On Thursday Evening at 6:30 the Bethlehem Book Club will be meeting via Zoom to discuss, “Anxious People,” by Fredrik Backman. On Saturday evening we will be offering our in-person Saturday evening worship service at 6:00. On Sunday morning we will offer in-person worship services at 8:00 and 9:30. Our 9:30 service will be live-streamed. Yours in Christ, Pastor Dan Let us pray…. God of love and mercy as we greet this new day we pray your Spirit would be our constant companion. Guide us into ways of peace. Permit us to see your creative work unfolding around us. And assure us of our adoption as your beloved children. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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