Knowing, Loving, Serving…
So the World Will Know Christ’s Love
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“The Messenger” September 2023 Is Here!

Bethel’s monthly church newsletter The Messenger has returned!  The first full monthly issue  debuted on July 1!  We look forward to regularly communicating church news and activities with you again!


Julie’s Journal:
A Pastor’s Perspective

Pastor Julie offers her perspective in The Messenger church newsletter.

As I sat down to write to you this month, I confess I felt a bit overwhelmed. Still do.


At home, we Belmans are still trying to find our groove as we transition into a new school year
(and sports, and dance, and scouts, and piano lessons, and you can fill in the blank with your own
family busy-ness!). Our church is in the middle of some tension and what I would call ‘growing
pains’ as we try to move forward faithfully post-pandemic. My heart aches for all those who have
lost their homes due to the wildfires raging in Canada and Hawaii. A third friend from high school
just completed suicide. It’s all so scary and sad; it’s hard not to feel powerless.


And, I know your life is full and complicated, that you’re balancing your own needs. So, maybe you need the reminder too, that we’re in that together. Sometimes, it’s good to remember that we’re all people, not just another name/group/email/social media post. We all have a whole life happening outside of our brief time together on Sunday mornings.


So, this month, I’m going to share my favorite formula for prayer in the midst of struggle. You may think that because I’m a pastor, and pray all the time for my job, that prayer comes easily to me. Well… sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. A few years ago, author Anne Lamott wrote a book called Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Since reading it, I find myself using these three prompts whenever I’m feeling stuck – whenever prayer feels weird or hard. Maybe you can use it, too!


One of the best things about community is that on the days when we don’t believe or know much, someone else carries us. We can carry one another. We can rest in each other’s faith, knowing we will carry someone else later.


So, with that in mind, I invite you to spend time thinking about these 3 prompts:
  • What is your “help” prayer?
    This is a good place to be honest – your hard is hard; you don’t have to play the hardship Olympics. I will pray with or for you, or just stand as witness to your stress, personal needs, political grief or worry, lament over systemic injustice, a broken heart, kids struggling, work stress, all of it. If you’re sad or angry or worried – name it
  • What is your “thanks”?
    Want to give thanks for a partner or a friend who showed up for you? … a check or refund that showed up at the right time? … a moment of grace? … a sense of restoration? … an exhale? … a bit of beauty
    that made you thankful to be alive? Who or what are you grateful for right now? However small, however major, I
    rejoice with you!
  • What is your “wow” moment?
    Give a few words to the “wow” moments even in the midst of the anxiety or grief or worry. Where or how are you seeing God surprise you right now? … the laugh of your kid? … a school board making
    a hard call? … someone dancing in the grocery store aisle? … a sunrise? What is something that makes you say,
    “wow, God!” in that awed voice you keep reserved for such moments of wonder?


Sometimes, simply naming things as they are can feel like prayer. Feeling seen can be the blessing. No formulas, no ‘vending-machine’ expectations – just you, bearing witness to the simple needs and gifts of today. Maybe find a quiet spot. Roll those shoulders. Exhale and inhale slowly a few times. Light a candle. And, pray.


And, if there is ever a way I can join you in prayer, please let me know.



Julie Songer Belman signature.

Read the Messenger September 2023