Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The Heart of Bay Ridge
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Sunday Service 10:30am
4th & Ovington Avenues
Brooklyn NY  11209
Dear Members and Friends,

Jesus said, “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. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers.”

These words of Jesus were part of the Gospel lesson for last Sunday and I enjoyed the congregational participation in my sermon. My theme was, “Stay connected to the vine” and I suggested three ways to help us to stay connected to Jesus.

First, we need to WORSHIP. I asked the congregation what excuses people have for not coming to church. The answers came quickly. Too tired to get up; Sunday is the only day to relax; Too much to do; Kids sports and activities; The songs are 200-500 years old; The pews are uncomfortable; The service is too long; The church is filled with hypocrites; We can experience God anywhere. Finally, one of our very honest young people simply replied, “Sometimes we are just too lazy and we don’t feel like coming.” There are plenty of excuses, but if we want to feel God’s Spirit in our life and if we want to be fed and nourished, we need to worship. We need to praise God, sing our hymns, pray, listen to God’s Word and receive Jesus’ presence in Holy Communion. In order to stay connected to the vine, we need to worship.

Second, we need to READ SCRIPTURE. I asked our confirmation students, what question do we ask every time we read a Bible story? I believe they all answered at once. “What is God trying to tell me?” The Bible is exciting. The Bible is Spirit-filled. The Bible has God’s messages for us right now. The Bible comes alive when we apply what we read to our lives today. In this Easter season, we are reminded of Jesus’ resurrection appearances and I love reading about the two followers who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Jesus interpreted the scriptures for them, and what was their response when they discover that it was Jesus? They exclaim, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was opening the scriptures to us?” This must be our reaction every time we open up this God-filled holy book.

Third, we need to STAY CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER. Don’t tell me you watch church on TV. From the very beginning, God’s people were together. The Israelites were a people. The followers of Jesus gathered together as a group. God’s people need each other. We need to support, guide, motivate and assist one another in the faith. In the difficult times and in our times of celebration we need to be a people who come together.

Jesus’ message is clear. We need to stay connected to the vine. Let us worship, read scripture, and stay connected to each other. When we do this, we will bear much fruit and bring in the harvest.

In the Lord's service,

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)