August Bethlehem Star
A Message from Pastor Randy
What is central to your faith? Sometimes we may overwhelm our faith with layers of commandments, beliefs, things we should or shouldn’t do, political ideology, morality, spiritual practices, technics and values. When all this is painted on our faith, our faith can easily turn into religiosity. Religion, practiced the wrong way, can in turn do all kinds of harmful things to ourselves, communities and world. It is freeing then to return to what is central to our faith.
In the Lutheran tradition, one of the best gifts given to the world is Martin Luther’s understanding of how God speaks to us through the Scriptures. God speaks to us through law and gospel. Law is the should and should nots in the Bible that are intended to protect life in community, to promote order and then too, God’s law exposes or reveals our sinful human natures and directs us to the One who can
deal with our sin, our Savior, Jesus. This is where we come to the center of our faith, the good news of the gospel. The gospel isn’t more laws, duties, assignments and religious practices. The gospel is what God does. The gospel is what Christ lovingly does for us and often in spite of us. We discover the gospel, the saving acts of God, in both the Older and Newer Testaments.
A favorite verse from the Older Testament speaks the gospel. “We do not present our supplications before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!” Daniel 9:18-19. This is Daniel’s prayer requesting God’s rescue, a rescue, a saving act from God, not because we deserve it, work hard for it or achieve it. Rather, Lord, save us sinners, not on the basis of our goodness, but no, rather, “Lord deliver us based on who YOU are, based on your righteousness, your mercies!” This, my sisters and brothers, is the good news of the gospel. This is the center of your faith. The Gospel is the saving acts of God.
Might Daniel’s prayer be our prayer.
A Note from the Council
It’s not easy to watch the news these days.
In fact, turning on the TV, going online or picking up a newspaper can be downright depressing.
I’m old enough to remember the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and the vitriol those events caused in our country, communities and even families in the 1960s and 1970s.
Even with all the masks, 2020 looks a lot like 1968. There’s no shortage of news sources, fake and otherwise, to tell us what to be afraid of during this pandemic … everything from the threats to our health to the perils facing our individual liberties and way of life.
Social media, of course, is the biggest difference between then and now. We also seem to have a lot more experts now and it doesn’t seem like they agree on much.
Have I lost friends due to our disagreements while socially distanced these past few months? Several. Proverbs tells us A friend loves at all times so I hope those fences will be mended.
While doing so, I’ll do my best to remember another verse from Proverbs, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
LWR School Kits
Lutheran World Relief is collecting school kits for use locally and across the world. Bethlehem would like to collect the items included in the school kits with the intention of packing the supplies in drawstring school bags on God’s Work Our Hands Sunday, September 13th if we are able to gather together.
If you would like to help out with this project please purchase the following supplies:
70-sheet notebooks of wide or college ruled paper, 8” x 10 ½” spiral bond
30 centimeter ruler with centimeters on one side and inches on the other
Blunt scissors (steel blades)
#2 unsharpened pencils with erasers
Black or blue ballpoint pens (no gel ink)
16 or 24 box of crayons
2 ½” eraser
The church will purchase the drawstring canvas school bags.
Each school kit will include 1 – drawstring canvas school bag, 4 – 70 sheet spiral notebooks, 1 – 30 centimeter ruler, 1 – pencil sharpener, 1 – pair of blunt scissors, 5 0 unsharpened #2 pencils, 5 – black or blue ballpoint pens, 1 – box of 16 or 24 crayons, 1 – 2 ½” eraser.
If you would like to make a monetary donation please send a check to Bethlehem Lutheran Church and mark “LWR School Kit” on your check.
Thank you for your support of this mission project!
Sunday School Rally Day will be on Sunday, August 30th at 10:00 a.m. after Worship Service. Parents and children are invited to meet after worship service on that day for an introduction to Sunday School and activities. A letter of invitation will be sent in August with more information.
Sunday School will begin on Sunday, September 13th at 10:00 a.m.. Bethlehem will follow the plan that is set forth by the State of Iowa and the Vinton-Shellsburg School District. If you are interested in helping, please contact the church office 319-472-3784.
Food for Thought
Meet on the 3rd Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m.
Book: Renia’s Diary by Renia Spiegel
Book: The Tide Between Us by Olive Collins
Restaurant: Irish Democrat
Book: Cuttin for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Restaurant: Fong’s Pizza
Book: The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes
Book: The Christmas Town by Donna Van Liere
Meeting Place: Bethlehem Inn
Benton County Food Pantry
The Benton Count Food Pantry is asking for monetary donations at this time. They are not able to accept food or other items due to recommended guidelines. Please send your donation to:
Benton County Food Pantry
PO Box 3
Vinton, IA 52349
Your continued support is greatly appreciated.
We have remembered the following in prayers
during the month of July. If you are missed off this list, our sincere apologies.
For health, healing and comfort: Jerry Hanna, Don Neblung, Brennen Still, Duane Mangold, Larry Bearbower, Kay West, Tenny Jertson
Lutheran Services in Iowa
Thank you for your generous gifts of $33.00 and $100.00. Your support is lifting up hundreds of Iowa foster families and keeping kids safe.
John Claes, Director
August Server Schedule
Month of August:
Altar Guild: Ellen Olson, Brenda Sutton
Council Lock-Up: Pat Gardner
August 2nd & 9th
Acolyte: Emma Dickinson
Lector: Doug Sutton (2nd, 9th, 23rd)
Ushers: Eric & Rachel Dickinson,
Doug & Brenda Sutton
Counters (2nd): Roxann Harms, Lisa Vermedahl
Counters (9th): Lisa Vermedahl, Deb Sampson
August 16th, 23rd, 30th
Acolyte: Aza Swayzer
Lector: Lisa Vermedahl (16th& 30th)
Ushers: Ryan & Kelli McClintock
Dave & Lisa Vermedahl
Counters (16th): Debbie Sampson, Steve Wallace
Counters(23rd): Steve Wallace, Dennis/Tina Eden
Counters (30th): Marta Bauer, Kimmit/Judy Renken
Flowers in August:
2nd: John & Julie Lindahl’s 40th Anniversary
16th: Doug Sutton’s Birthday
30th: Grayce & Cooper McClintock’s Birthday