Q&A: Is there room for self-care without being accused of selfishness?

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In at least two of the gospels, Jesus goes to a place called, well, Bethany, to have a meal with some friends. The host had a skin disease, so it seemed to Jesus’ friends that he was there because there was work for him to do. They thought, “touch the man and heal him! This is exactly what you do!”

But Jesus was eating a delicious dinner and enjoying the company of his friends, skin disease and all.

Then, suddenly, a woman, one of their friends, took out a very special, very expensive sealed jar, filled to the brim with very expensive, deliciously aromatic perfume, and she broke it open, pouring every last drop on Jesus’ head.

I don’t know if any of them had ever smelled anything so good! In fact, it was so startling that one of them became angry said, “how wasteful!! How selfish! We could have sold that and given the money to somebody on the street!”

This story is the closest thing we’ve got to bath bombs, or massages, or lavish self care we’ve got in the Bible. And Jesus is accused of selfishness, of wasting resources, of taking a moment for himself — wasting time, instead of working every hour of every day, as they expect him to. And so, I think, so will we be. But, It seems that self care is part of the way of life that the gospel paves for us. And it seems that Jesus thought it was worth the risk.

Jesus responds to his friends’ accusations by reminding them of this: you have every moment in the world to work and care for the poor. And what she did was beautiful. This is what she had to offer. She has prepared me for what I am called to next in God’s purposes for the world. God uses all things, even perfume and bath bombs for the good of those who love God, for the good of God’s dream for the world.

Do you know what is next for you? Are you ready for it? It seems that someone has arrived in the world with a gift to pour out for you. Soak it in- then go.

Q&A: How do you get to heaven (transport)?

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Today I'm going to share a short answer to a question that one of our children asked. It said: “How do you get to heaven (transport)?”

I want to start with a true story. About Bucky, a black labrador. Bucky's owner, Mark, moved into a community in South Carolina, where he couldn't have a dog. So he brought Bucky to live with his father a few states away in Virginia. Almost immediately, Bucky ran away. He walked over 500 miles to get back home.

There are lots of stories like that. Dogs and cats that get lost and find their way back. Birds that fly halfway across the world and then return to the same feeder in your yard the next year. Something in them knows how to get home.

I think that's how it works with heaven.

In the bible, the disciple Thomas actually asks pretty much the same thing as our questioner. Jesus tells his friends, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” And Thomas says to Jesus, “We don't know where you are going. How can we know the way?” How can we know the way to somewhere we've never been?

And Jesus says, “I am the way. I'm going to prepare a place for you. And when it's ready I will come and get you, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

I've been in the room when humans and animals have died, and I never saw any cars, or planes, or hot air balloons taking them to heaven. So I don't really know exactly how we get there. But I believe that being with God is our true home, and that something in us – maybe the Jesus inside us – knows the way home.

That's my answer.

- Pastor Vince Amlin

Q&A - August Worship Theme

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Our new worship theme in August is Q&A. This is your chance to choose the theme for each week and ask about what's really on your mind. All month, Vince and Rebecca will attempt to answer your burning spiritual, biblical, theological, or ethical questions in sermon form. There will be slips of paper and a box on the coffee hour table. Write down as many questions as you want and leave them in there. You can also respond using the form below if something occurs to you in the middle of the week. Find out how we think about the questions that are important to you. Let's start the conversation!

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Name

Define-the-relationship: join Bethany as a member!

Whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey, you are welcome here. You are welcome to come once (although: how did you end up on our newsletter list?), to hang around for years, to come and go. For those who increasingly feel like Bethany is home, there’s also the possibility of joining as a member. 

Membership is a way of acknowledging the significance of the relationship you already have with this community. You already have access to what and who Bethany is. You are already invited to participate fully. You already give (of your time, energy, and/or resources). You already belong. Membership says, “I’m all in.” Membership recognizes your role as host here, inviting and welcoming others, helping to make a spiritual home here on the corner of Paulina and Cullom, for now and for the future.

If you are interested (or think you might be) let Vince or Rebecca know. They’re happy to answer any questions you have. 

And if you’re already on board, join us on Sunday, August 26th after church. We’ll get to know each other a bit, get a tour of Bethany (and a sense of the ministries going on here), share some food, and talk about plans for the new members service. Then, on Sunday, September 9th we’ll officially welcome new members as part of our Homecoming service.

Hands-On Worship: June's Worship Theme

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The life of faith is a full-body experience. We are encouraged to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. We’re not only spiritual beings when we’re reading the bible, or praying, or sitting in church. We are living our faith when we’re creating, serving others, working, or marching for justice! We’re kicking off summer worship with a series that lets us dig in to the Christian life, getting our hands dirty, and engaging our whole selves in our worship of the God of Love. Each week in June as part of our worship service we’ll focus on a new activity to do with our hands which illustrates an aspect of what it means to be the people of God. We’ll paint together, serve together, do science experiments together, and march together (mark your calendars for the Chicago Pride Parade, June 24th!) All of these activities will be intentionally multi-generational, so June is a great time to bring your kids and grandkids (or your parents and grandparents and friends!) Come celebrate your kinesthetic side as we get in touch with the divine (literally...kind of).