What it looks like to orbit the Earth.

Pastor Shonnie’s reflections on Sandy Hook.

There is an overwhelming array of news, blogposts, videos, and editorials to digest on the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy, so why should I add to it? Especially since the point I’m about to make is this: limit your exposure to all this media.

I’m adding to it only to share the balm God’s given to me…right in the midst of my own personally traumatic week….hoping it might be of some pastoral comfort to you as well.

Along with the shock, repulsion and grief this event provokes in all of us, it’s also normal to feel a certain amount of survivor’s guilt. We wonder if there’s a “proper” way to share in the communal grief surrounding us. How should this impact our Christmas mood? For me last week, being broadsided by my mom’s sudden hospitalization for very serious pneumonia, I flat out had to put a box around how much I could process. How much can we take—and how should we respond—if we’re already carrying the world on our shoulders?

  1. Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. “ For sure, we’re to deeply empathize and share in the grief over the horrific, incomprehensible loss of these innocent children and adults. Jesus weeps with those who weep, and we’re to carry on his ministry as the Body of Christ.  Yet, we should check ourselves if we find ourselves gawking. (Gawking is akin to stalking). There’s a flood of media available to us, but once we’re informed, going back for more and more, or re-exposing ourselves to the same information, is a sign we’ve unwittingly crossed over the line into morbid fascination (an excessive interest in death or unpleasant events). This is unhealthy, un-Jesus-like, and it’s not going to do us, or others, any good.
  2. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  This is not Pollyannaish, nor is it disrespectful. The apostle Paul, who exhorts us here, personally experienced more trauma to mentally and emotionally replay than we ever will.  Yet he carefully chose what to THINK ABOUT. THINK ABOUT THESE (true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy) THINGS. The amount of pain, suffering, and evil in this world will quickly overwhelm your mental and emotional tank if you choose to gawk.
  3. 1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” The way to honor the dead, “repay evil,” and honor Jesus in this season, is to be sympathetic, compassionate and loving toward the people right around you. Actively “be a blessing” to the people in your family, at work, and in your neighborhood. Manage your thinking well (where you’re “spending” your mental and emotional attention), and you will represent Jesus well. You’ll be a comforting light of hope, in a world that desperately needs Jesus to show up this Christmas!

Our campus pastor, Shonnie Scott, is just getting into blogging. Shonnie is a wife and mother, who has trustingly followed Jesus’ into countless wild and crazy adventures—in ministry and life! She never looks back…

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in."
Leonard Cohen

the waiting game.

have you ever waited for anything? i’m not talking about that 10 minute doctor’s appointment you waited an hour for in the waiting room. i mean real waiting. the kind that costs you wrinkles and springs forth grey hair. why it’s referred to as a game, i don’t know. it isn’t fun, and there are no cool pieces to move around or sound effects if you hit the dinger thingy.

we had very little trouble having children. some may disagree, as it took a little time with our first, but i happen to know this because of the sheer numbers of God-fearing, incredible women God has surrounded me with who cannot (yet) have biological children. despite the best western, eastern and wherever-else-ern medicine has to offer, it isn’t happening. (yet.)

i was texting with one of those friends tonight. i actually planned on writing about something else in this week’s newsletter, but i can’t get my head away from my conversation with her so i’m giving in and realizing God may actually have changed the plan on me. (He does that, you know.)

this week’s message refers to Luke 1, where the angel Gabriel tells John the Baptist’s (future) father Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant with him. this couple had tried to get pregnant but were unable. and when Zechariah heard the news, he freaked out and told Gabriel he wanted proof. really not a good idea. because Gabriel became a little perturbed and took away Zechariah’s ability to speak.

but when God decides to do something, He does it. we can try and get in His way, we can jockey this way and zig-zag that way, but regardless of doubting daddies, aging bodies, and completely freaked out parents-to- be, God’s will will be done.

so if you’re waiting for something, know that God knows. He knows. He knows your struggles. He knows your doubts. He knows your frustrations. and regardless of all of this, He has an answer. you may just not be quite ready to receive it. (yet.)

so pray, ask your friends to pray, and pray some more. because the same God that knows also loves. 

Amanda and DavidAmanda Lenke is the Children’s Ministry Director at BCCWS. She’s got two spunky kids, a loving husband and makes lists of lists. Email her if you’d like to receive the Children’s Ministry newsletter.

"It’s all about desire."

Today Pastor Joe preached about waiting in anticipation. About being aware of our wants and surrendering them to God in this season of Advent. Here’s another reflection on desire in the time of waiting for Emmanuel, to read alongside your Advent devotional if you wish.


Want more? Visit our blog again throughout the Advent season for more reflections, thoughts, and other creative ways to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.

"God is all about giving away God."

A visual perspective of each nation’s GDP - the fatter the country, the richer.
Map image: © Copyright SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan)

A visual perspective of each nation’s GDP - the fatter the country, the richer.

Map image: © Copyright SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan)

Are there any small/community groups I can join in West Seattle?

The new sermon series fleshing out what this “local, relational, contextual” stuff is all about is very timely as it’s intersected with another question I hear floating around Bethany West Seattle with great frequency, “Are there any small/community groups I can join in West Seattle?”

As someone who is a problem solver and who has taught a Bible study numerous times in West Seattle, my first reaction was to gear up and offer the Bible study again this term. Thankfully, this line of thinking was intersected with a conversation with Josh and Bob who have felt called to lead a group, too. The fruit of that discussion was a concept for leading a community group this fall that would not only facilitate relationships (as all groups do,) but that would also equip and encourage others to lead community/small groups, too! 

So, if you’ve found yourself asking when there will be more groups offered in West Seattle (or more variety,) perhaps that’s the Holy Spirit nudging you to consider leading a group! Even if you’re not sure whether that’s the case, we’d love to have you join us every other Thursday this fall (beginning September 27th) to learn more about leading a group for Bethany West Seattle (and to meet some other awesome folks in the process!) The group is aptly titled, “Basics for Leading Groups and Bible Studies at Bethany,” and we hope to see you there! More details can be found by selecting the group from this list.

Contact me (Kristi Nelson) by e-mail if you’d like to sign up or if you just have questions about the group.

BCCWS children and the Lord’s table.

Chi-RhoThis coming Sunday, BCCWS children will be at worship with us during communion. We anticipate this will be a new experience for several children (and their parents!) but we’re excited to come to the Lord’s table as an intergenerational community, and we’re confident it will prompt wonderful curiosity and spiritual conversations amongst our body.

Bethany Community Church is a bit of a melting pot in terms of attenders’ past church experiences and traditions. And we like it that way! But in recognizing that, we’d like to provide a little background on how Bethany views children and the Lord’s Table.

Bethany Community Church West Seattle is a nondenominational church community guided by the attitude “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”  We do not offer a “confirmation” or “first communion” class for children.  Instead, we leave it to parents to determine when their children are ready to receive Christ’s profound, transforming gift of the bread and cup at the Lord’s table. We strongly encourage parents to seek God, search the scriptures, and trust their own sense of their child’s faith in Jesus, as simple as that faith may be. Take time to talk about communion with your children before Sunday (find some great tips here). If you are unsure if your child is ready to take communion and would like help with this decision, contact Pastor Shonnie (shonnies@churchbcc.org).

Finally, we encourage all our worshiping community to exemplify Jesus’ attitude toward children: “Let the little children come to me…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14

Psalm 122

was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.” For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Picasso - Long Live Peace

Picasso - Long Live Peace

Here’s a video with one of the speakers we heard at the conference, Michael Frost. He’s a pretty well-known current missiologist. What do you think?