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 May Message
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ®  |  4th & Ovington Avenues, Brooklyn NY 11209  |  718.748.9502
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Dear Members and Friends,

​In confirmation class last Sunday I felt the need to tell our wonderful students that everything in the Bible needs to be analyzed through the eyes of Jesus. We need to acknowledge that there are disturbing events in the Old Testament. We were discussing the Israelites coming to the land of Canaan. They reached the Promised Land, but what did they do? Did they join the Canaanites and live together with them in harmony? Did they negotiate an agreement to live in certain areas peacefully? No, when Joshua and the Israelites defeated Jericho, “they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old (Joshua 6:21).” Bottom line, they killed everyone and everything and burned down the city. Joshua and his people left a path of destruction as the Israelites conquered kingdom after kingdom, town after town. They took no hostages. There were no survivors.

I asked our students whether this action would be appropriate today. The answer was of course, absolutely not. Someone turned the religious world upside down. Someone redefined true godliness. Someone came to show us a different way. In the Gospel of John, someone describes himself this way.

  • John 6:35 – I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
  • John 8:12 – I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
  • John 10:9 – I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved.
  • John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
  • John 11:25 – I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
  • John 14:6 – I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
  • John 15:5 – I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

Someone came to let us know that our God is not a God of war and destruction. Someone came to let us know that true godliness involves sacrificial love. Someone came to show us a better way. That someone is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. For the Christian, it is all about Jesus. It is time for us to follow the bread, the light, the gate, the shepherd, the resurrection, the way, the truth, the life, the vine. It is time for us to follow Jesus!

In God’s Service,