I want to share with you what happened on Wednesday…Saturday…and Sunday.
You may know that on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 18) we had a fish dinner scheduled in the Great Room and a service to follow in the sanctuary. What you may not know is, in that same Great Room on the day before, we had a flood. The pipes in the ceiling above had frozen and broke. A waterfall much like the frozen Niagara north of us flowed from the ceiling and cascaded down into the Great Room, stopping by the Nursery to fill it with enough water to baptize all of its visitors. Folks kicked into action immediately, shutting off the water flow and then cleaning up the mess…make that messes. Thanks to office and nursery staff, Bill Stephan our Property Supervisor, and volunteers, items got salvaged, the Nursery got moved to another location, and more messes got cleaned up…and oh yes, by Wednesday it was confirmed that we were safe to meet in the Great Room.
So on a bitter cold and blustery Wednesday evening the place was packed with a huge turnout for the fish dinner served by an amazing crew of Deacons and their helpers. We headed upstairs to worship and prepare our hearts for the Lenten season. Never missing a beat!
That was Wednesday.
On Saturday we were supposed to have the Food Pantry ministry in the morning and Upward Basketball all day. Oh but we also were having snow and more snow and the bitter cold with it. A huge crew of faithful helpers gathered for the Food Bank, circled in prayer and hustled to help clear the way for folks to come in. And they did. Many came to be blessed with a ministry of food.
Down the hall in the Great Room and the rooms all around hundreds of children and families came to play basketball and cheer and do it all in the spirit of Jesus’ love. All around were volunteers from Bethany and beyond making it happen. Some families did not make it to the church; the weather was brutal and some roads were treacherous. But oh my, was there ever a spirit of joy and pure fun in that place! The same place that was flooded a few days ago.
Later that evening some of us went downtown to a gathering of Coalition for Christian Outreach, a dynamic ministry to college students on campuses across the east and Midwest. Our own Mike Swanson is a part of the CCO ministry and is supported by Bethany. He was there…along with about 3,000 students and staff and supportive adults. What an evening it was for eight of us from Bethany who were able to be there, including Earl and Pat Swanson, Mike’s mom and dad.
That was Saturday.
On Sunday the weather again invaded our plans with a vengeance. Bitter cold, more snow and ice. Those who were able gathered for a glorious time of worship as we began our sermon series on the Beatitudes of Jesus in Matthew 5:1-12. We sang and gave and prayed and learned more deeply what it means when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” After worship a large and hardy group gathered downstairs for the new members class. We ate and fellowshipped and heard testimonies from Bethany folks on what it means to be a follower of Jesus in this body of Christ.
The Junior High Youth Group went to Light of Life Mission in Pittsburgh and served dinners to homeless and needy families. The Senior Highs had another great evening of fun and learning. And…a very large gathering of children and adults gathered in the Welcome Center to worship and then break off into small groups to study Scripture and simply encourage one another. Those Lenten Small Groups got off to a rousing start!
That was Sunday.
Here is the point. In spite of all the obstacles, the ice and snow and bitter cold…the flooding of the Great Room and Nursery…the uncertainties about travel and about the availability of rooms…ministry happened in a glorious way. People praised God, gave of their very best, rallied together, served with joy and love…and many lives were touched with the love of God.
Thank you to all who gave of yourselves. Thank you to all who were able to come and be a part of the kingdom action…and most of all, thanks be to God.
As one person said it, “We were just doing what we needed to do to get it done, just pitching in together.”
See you on Sunday,