The decree was written in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with the king’s signet ring. Dispatches were sent by swift messengers into all the provinces of the empire, giving the order that all Jews—young and old, including women and children—must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on a single day…The property of the Jews would be given to those who killed them. (NLT2)
The decree was given. Queen Esther’s people would be killed. What to do? Well, if you know the story in the Book of Esther, you know that, her uncle Mordecai informs Esther of the decree and then asks her a question that changes everything. In verse 14, he asks, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Her rise to position of queen was an unlikely one, so it’s easier to see God’s hand in the whole story. Such is the tapestry of our history: when God needs to show up, especially in unlikely places, He shows up. His plan is accomplished. Now, did God plan the Jews would be killed by the king? No. But He was aware it would happen unless something was done.
Did God plan a COVID-19 pandemic? No. But He was aware it would happen, and I believe, has acted in numerous ways that has saved countless lives. Sometimes the “invisible hand of God” isn’t so invisible. Such is the case with Esther. Even though she knew it could very well mean her death, she approaches King Xerxes and pleads her case. She did something big, and her people were saved. Everything swiveled on Mordecai’s question: “for just such a time as this?”
Sisters and brothers, where is God asking you this same question? Life is tough right now in particular ways. People are lonely and alone. Friends, family, and strangers around you are desperate for hope…any kind of hope…especially verifiable, real, concrete, sustainable HOPE.
You and I have within us this incredible true hope in Jesus Christ. Is God asking you, in these particularly difficult times, “…for just such a time as this?” Can you save lives by doing something big too? Is THIS the time to share the reality of Jesus Christ with people you know, as well as those you don’t know, in a much more BOLD and CLEAR and UNAPOLOGETIC way?
Perhaps you became a Christ-follower, for just such a time as this.
Pastor Rusty <><
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Dear Old Bethel Congregation,
It has been an honor and a privilege to work at Old Bethel for the past 21+ years. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the people of this congregation as we have served God together. I love the spirit of this church and have enjoyed playing the magnificent organ, directing the choirs and planning worship. It is with joy and sadness that I have decided to retire from Old Bethel at the end of this year. I have served with 6 pastors, 1 interim pastor and at least 47 other staff members over the past 21 years. I have never looked at this as a job, but instead a ministry for an audience of One, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Hopefully Old Bethel was blessed along the way through the music and worship experiences I have prepared for you.
Working with the choirs and the volunteers has been a pleasure and getting to know the congregation through different ministry opportunities has been very special to me. My choir members have been very loyal servants. I truly appreciate all they have done over the years to provide beautiful music each Sunday. They have faithfully shown up and were always ready to do whatever was needed (including the men dressing up as angels for the Breakfast with Santa event last year).
I have two special memories to share with you. On my very first Sunday, I was introduced to the congregation and it was said I live in Greenwood. After church a gentleman greeted me and told me he was happy I was there and said, “Come when you can.” I told him I didn’t think it worked that way!
My other memory was when we had a huge snow storm and Jim was out of town for school. I started shoveling Saturday night in hopes of being able to get to church the next morning. When I got up at 5:00 a.m. it looked like I had not shoveled at all! I got up and started shoveling the driveway when the phone rang in the garage. I was hoping church had been cancelled because I had no idea how I was going to get there. Al Amstutz was the pastor at the time and he told me not to worry. He said to just get ready and he would send someone for me. I was sitting in my living room all dressed and ready to go at 9:00 a.m. waiting. (It takes about 25-30 minutes on a good day to get to church and the service was starting at 9:30 a.m.) It was about 9:10 when Ray Shearer drove into my driveway in a snow plow. We arrived at church about 1 minute before the service was supposed to start. I jumped out, ran to put my organ shoes on and heard a choir singing in Wesley! There were about 10 people in the choir. There may have been more people in the choir that day than there were in the congregation, but we had church. The bonus was, Ray plowed my driveway when he took me home!!
I will miss everyone, but I look forward to spending more time with my husband Jim, who has been very supportive of my evening rehearsals and busy weekends for the past 36 years as I have been involved in church ministry. The extra time will also allow me to take care of my mother and spend more time with my daughter and twin grandsons. My father lives in New Jersey and turned 90 in September. I am hoping to be able to visit him more often. I still plan to direct my community handbell choir, so hopefully I will see many of you at our concerts once this pandemic is over and I will still see you at Old Bethel.
Thank you for everything!
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GOOD NEWS & UPDATES:
The Annual Preschool Scholastic Book Fair runs through November 22. When shopping at the book fair, you are helping put new books into the hands of our preschoolers. There will be a variety of different age levels and genres. If you would like to shop during the week please contact Ms. Shannon the Preschool Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-359-9651. You can also shop online at https://www.scholastic.com/bf/oldbethelpreschool.
The Old Bethel & Partners Food Pantry is collecting Kleenex and Paper Towels to distribute to our shoppers this Christmas. These items are a huge blessing to the families we serve and are greatly appreciated. If you are able to donate, please drop these items off at the pantry or at the church. If you have any questions please contact Community Life Minister Arin Schellenberg.
Christmas Tailgate Sing-A-Long: All are invited to join the musical fun on Saturday, December 5, at 2pm for an afternoon of caroling, cocoas and cookies. Park your car in the Old Bethel Parking lot, sit in your tailgate or bring a camp chair. We will be staying outside so bring a blanket to bundle up. We will celebrate the holiday season by singing some of our favorite Christmas songs. Everyone is welcome, so feel free to invite friends and family. This event is weather dependent. We hope to see you there! Contact Community Life Minister Arin Schellenberg at email@example.com with any questions.
This year the Angel/Giving Tree is going virtual. We have two wonderful families who help in our community that need help this Christmas Season. You will be able to sign up to purchase a gift via sign up genius at the link below or you can contact Shannon Schwoebel firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 317-359-9651 with any donation questions. Here is how this virtual Angel/Giving Tree will work. When you sign up to buy something each item will have a number and a letter. The families are assigned a number and then each family member gets a letter. When you purchase the item, we ask that you wrap all the gifts you are donating and on the gift tag write the number and letter of the gift you purchased. Please have all purchased gifts to the church by December 18. The link for Virtual Angel/Giving Tree is https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D4DA8A623A1F9C52-angel
This Sunday’s Message Notes are below.
November 22: Why Not Try Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving should be a daily _______________, not a one day ____________________.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Paul is talking about a continual ________________ for Christ-follower.
To be thankful in all circumstances, I need a proper perspective of both my _______________________, and my ___________.
Three attitudes that keep me from being thankful: First, is _______________.
Second, is a _______________ ______________. Third is ____________________.
As [Jesus] entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus' feet, so grateful. He couldn't thank him enough… Jesus said, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you. Luke 17: 12-I9 (Mes)
Jesus was talking about being ______________ _____________ through thanksgiving.
I say, “Thank you God” when I:
1. Spend time in _______________ (more than just Sunday).
2. When I _______________ others.
3. When I love His people by _____________ His Church.
4. When I ________________ to my faith in Him to others.
5. When I ______________ _________ to help those who are hurting.
6. When I give God my ____________ and ____________.
7. When I worship and praise Him with ______________________.
Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph. 5:20 (NCV)
We are constantly adding to our _______________ list, but more than anything we should be adding to our ________________ list!
Living a life of true thanksgiving is a __________________!
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For Such a Time as This - From Pastor Rusty