Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The Heart of Bay Ridge
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Sunday Service 10:30am
4th & Ovington Avenues
Brooklyn NY  11209
718.748.9502
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ®  |  4th & Ovington Avenues, Brooklyn NY 11209  |  718.748.9502
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Pastor Paul's Thanksgiving Message
Dear Members & Friends,

​Luke 18:9-14 – He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

You have to love Jesus’ parables. There is always a radical message. The Pharisee is the religious one. The Pharisee is the righteous one, following the rules, fasting and financially supporting God’s work. Tax collectors were notorious for collecting more than required and keeping the excess money for themselves. Basically, they were thieves. But, who was justified in this parable? It is the tax collector who did the right thing. The Pharisee failed miserably. Why? Because, the Pharisee’s thankfulness was misguided. The Pharisee’s thankfulness involved self-righteous superiority. He was thankful that he wasn’t like the sinners of society.

Thanksgiving can be beautiful, godly and humble. Thanksgiving can also be self centered and filled with inequality. Let us as God’s people be thankful for the right reasons. Let us humbly come before God, realizing that our blessings are not the result of our intelligence, charisma or even our righteousness. Our blessings are truly a gift from God. Let us in all humility come before our wonderful loving God in a true spirit of Thanksgiving. Yes, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…but, God loves us anyway!

Please join us for “Thanksgiving Sunday” this coming Sunday, November 24th. This is a worship service completely devoted to thanksgiving and praise. God blesses us every day. This is our time to say “Thank You”.

This Sunday also begins our “Be a Blessing” project. Each year we gather winter outerwear for the clients of our Healing Center and their children. Please consider donating new coats, hats, scarves, gloves and mittens for those families striving to start over again after a life negatively affected by family violence. We will also be donating canned and packaged goods to the 4th Avenue Presbyterian Church Food Pantry. Please bring some food items to help those in need in our community.

In God’s Service,

Rev. Paul H. Knudsen