Monday, February 10, 2014

Priorities


A week ago, as I exited the parking lot of our church, 
I spotted a person taking a photo of a box with the words 
"Priorities?" 
painted on the side.  
The box was positioned near our church sign, 
"United in Christ and United in Orange!"  

For the past week, 
I've pondered what to think of this observance.  
My response is below.  



To the Person Questioning our Priorities,


Allow me to shed some light on the PRIORITIES of the members and friends inside Bethany Lutheran Church:

I want to share something exciting with you:  instead of ignoring the obvious connection to the world and culture around us, we embraced the partnership of “SOUPer Bowl of Caring”, a national organization which uses the Super Bowl weekend to encourage young folks to tackle hunger in their home communities.  


Their simple prayer, "Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat”, became a catalyst for our congregation to tackle hunger on this sporting weekend, making our PRIORITY the feeding of many over the feeding of ourselves.  In honor of Super Bowl  XLVIII (48), we challenged our congregation to raise $4,800 in funds and collect 4,800 pounds of food.

Soup was prepared and hand-delivered to our home-bound members who couldn’t make it to church that day.  It was a PRIORITY of ours to see that they, too, felt remembered and loved and part of the bigger church as a whole.

Members paired up with local King Soopers stores and spent their Saturday morning collecting food to be donated to Metro CareRing.  They choose to stand in the cold weather and gather donations, because ending hunger was a PRIORITY for these families. 

The Rocky Mountain Synod Bishop, Jim Gonia, was present for the entire morning of February 2.  He preached and participated in all services, including the food breakdown in the Great Hall.  A man who could have been at any number of the 176 churches he oversees made it a PRIORITY to worship and support the ministries of Bethany Lutheran Church that day. 


The Groundhog, the Living Candle and the Soup Man made an appearance at a worship designed with young families in mind.  Rather than ignoring the light-hearted spirit of whether or not the Groundhog saw his shadow, we incorporated this animal into our service, capitalizing on the connection between darkness and light, making it clear that Jesus was our PRIORITY, the real light of our world. 

The president of our congregational council presented the Bishop with a check for $5,000 to support the ministry of the new Office of Bishop, a place and space open and available to all.  This donation allowed the folks at the synod level to know that a relationship and partnership with them was indeed a PRIORITY in our church life.

We blessed the candles that would be used over the next liturgical year, as well as the Altar Guild, a tireless group of individuals who put in much work behind the scenes, ensuring the preparation and details of each worship are attended to and made a PRIORITY each week. 


Members offered their artistic skills via face-painting, making community a PRIORITY for all who stopped by to support the many activities of the morning.  

A rose was placed on the altar, celebrating the birth and adoption of a new baby girl, and a grandmother celebrated the joyful, new familial PRIORITIES in her life. 

An inter-generational room of people participated in a food breakdown, taking 5,000 pounds of rice and beans and turning it into 1-pound bags for the clients at Metro CareRing.  Scoop by scoop, folks  made it a PRIORITY to connect with each other and told hunger to take a hike.

We observed the selected text of the week, Luke 2:29-38, where a young Jesus was first presented in the temple and recognized by Simeon and Anna.  This holy text was acted out by our youth, giving them a visceral connection to such an amazing event in history and PRIORITIZING what stories need to be passed down from one generation to another.  

Choirs sang, church bells rang.  Young instrumentalists bravely lead Communion hymns.  Musicians young and old gave PRIORITY to offering their melodic gifts with friends and families on this celebratory morning.

Amidst tens of young, curious children, a new child of God was baptized into the waters of Christ.  Water was sprinkled, crosses were signed, candles were lit, verses were shared.  This young family brought their baby forward and stood before God and the congregation to declare that raising their child in a faith-centered home was going to be a PRIORITY in their life.  We confessed what we believed together, and agreed to be part of the faith-forming journey.  

To top things off, our congregation made their PRIORITIES clear when they donated over $17,000 in funds and over 12,000 pounds of food, tackling hunger together.  Alleluia!

Perhaps you have not set foot in our building.  Perhaps this was your first time to Bethany Lutheran Church.  In that case, we extend an open invitation to you and your friends and family to come and see.  Experience the Spirit-driven priorities of the hearts and heads of Bethany Lutheran Church.  Come.  All are welcome.

Peace,

Brenda L. Greenwald

4 comments:

Eric said...

You rock, Brenda! You are a blessing to me and my family. What a great post. Our church is great, and so is our awesome God!

Kat said...

What a beautiful post! I think if more people had these priorities the world would be a better place. :)

susan said...

Love your response, Brenda!

jay alexi said...

Hi Brenda, Just checking out your blog and was so refreshed at the inspiration and positive words you have for the world. Thank YOU so much.-Jay