Inside the January Bethany newsletter are photographs of an important night. On New Year’s Eve, many Bethany folks gathered at the home of one of our community. The hospitality ministry planned a party to burn (a copy of) the mortgage! In 2010, we paid off the mortgage after the sale of the acre to our south. To say this debt-free reality is a blessing is an understatement. Instead of focusing on paying off anything, we can devote ourselves to God’s call on our congregation. But, what is that call? What is our purpose?
Not long after coming to Bethany, I asked to change our website address. So many churches have a bunch of letters with their city behind it as their website. We need our website to be unique because we are unique. Our web address became Bethanybelieves.com.
Without the skip of a beat, the next word was “what” as in “what does Bethany believe.” It’s a fair question; one that I was unwilling to answer until we all had spent some time together. Each person that comes into contact with Bethany Christian Church has his or her own answer to that question. Some discern what we believe by simply walking around our building. Some discover what we believe by investigating our website. Some perceive what we believe by walking past our booth at Tulsa Pride. People are learning about Bethany and seeing for themselves what we believe. And, yet, it may feel like we haven’t answered that for ourselves.
At the end of worship and sharing on New Year’s Eve, we revealed hopes and dreams for our church. One particular dream was that we discern a mission and proclaim it. Others reminded us of a way, an approach that is a part of Bethany’s identity from the very beginning of the church nearly 50 years ago.
Starting with this Sunday, Epiphany, we will explore our 3 important gifts. These 3 Gifts are the foundation for everything this community of faith does and are desperately needed in the world. The Magi, who we celebrate on Epiphany, aren’t the only ones bearing gifts.