Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The Heart of Bay Ridge
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Sunday Service 10:30am
4th & Ovington Avenues
Brooklyn NY  11209
Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
Pastor Paul's June Message 
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ®  |  4th & Ovington Avenues, Brooklyn NY 11209  |  718.748.9502
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

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Dear Members and Friends,

​We just finished the weekly chapel service in our school. I began my message by asking our children, “What country are your ancestors from?” The responses went on and on and on. Italy, Greece, Mexico, Syria, Germany, Puerto Rico, Norway, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, Lebanon, Sweden, Aruba, Uzbekistan, Ireland, Scotland, Poland. The hands were still up with more, but I needed to move on to the next question.

My next question was, “What Christian denominations do you belong to?” Once again, the responses went on and on and on. Presbyterian, Orthodox, Baptist, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, Greek Orthodox. I went on to explain how Protestants and Roman Catholics didn’t associate with each other when I was growing up. We weren’t allowed to go to each other’s churches and we considered our religious beliefs very different.

I continued by asking, “What else separates us?” Our race, skin color, how much money we have, how athletic we are, how smart we are, what town we live in, what language we speak. We are different in so many ways and so many things separate us.

John 17:20 – Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.”

Oh, how we have failed! So many things divide us. God’s people are far from being one. We are blessed with uniqueness. Yes, we are all different, but our differences rather than separating us, should bind us together and make us stronger, better able to do the wonderful work of the Lord. Jesus prayed fervently that his followers would be one. There is only one way this can happen and our children knew the answer right away. The only thing that overcomes separation and division is love. With God’s love in our hearts, differences are not negative. Differences don’t separate us into groups who are suspicious, jealous or disturbed with each other. With God’s love in our hearts, we rejoice in our differences and we are energized by them. We too, like Jesus, pray fervently for the unity of believers. It is time to be one. It is time to love.

In God’s Service,