Bethellutheranchurch   -  

Dear Bethel,

This past Sunday afternoon, Bethel’s Visitation Pastor Linda Helberg and Music Minister Brock Besse traveled around Rochester delivering 40 poinsettias to Bethel homebound members. Along with the beautiful red poinsettia was a bag of sweet goodies and a handmade card prepared by one of 25 youth who participated in this creative project. Each card held a personal note from the youth to the person receiving the visit and the gifts of flowers and treats.

At our staff meeting on Tuesday, Pastor Linda spoke of the joy she and Brock had in the opportunity to share this good cheer. Bethel’s Middle School Ministry Director Julie Allhiser shared at that same meeting how heart-warming the personal notes were that the youth had included in each carefully crafted card. Nearly 100 cards were created and with the delivery of 30 more poinsettias and gifts (many delivered by Gary and Kathie Kleist), 70 of our homebound were reminded that they are not alone. In this season, they were assured that they are blessed by the gift of a Savior Jesus and by a church family who cares about them and holds them in prayer.

In Jesus’ ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing, he was said to have visited the “invalids.” For example in the Gospel of John,

“Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” 8Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” (John 5:1–8)

The term invalid seems a bit dated and is now perhaps an offensive definition. Usually, an invalid is defined as a person with a disability or illness—someone confined to home or bed because of their illness, disability, or injury; too sick or weak to care for themselves. Add to this that invalid has a second definition and pronunciation, In-VALID, meaning no longer of worth or validity.

For the man Jesus encounters in Jerusalem, it was clear that he had been cast aside and for thirty-eight years had struggled with illness. This man likely felt in-valid because it appears that no one cared for him and he was all alone. Jesus gives him time and attention, sees him instead of overlooking him, and heals him. It is a gift. Nothing the man has done earns this healing; it is the grace of Jesus Christ that restores him to wholeness again.

Bethel’s ministry to our homebound is centered in validating the worth of each member of our congregation and each person as a beloved child of God. Many who were already homebound are suffering isolation increasingly during this time. But for a moment this past weekend, there was a beautiful poinsettia, gifts, a smile, and a thoughtful note from our youth that conveyed to our homebound that they are not invalids or in-valid . . . they are seen by their loving Heavenly Father as whole and loved no matter the circumstances.

And our homebound are not alone.

Julie Allhiser shared an important insight as to a new depth of compassion she read in the cards prepared by our youth. In these days, our youth are also experiencing a time of being homebound and maybe even feel a bit like invalids. As distance learning continues in these days of pandemic and activities are suspended for a time, our youth have also understood what it is like to, at times, feel isolated and alone . . . maybe even forgotten. Their words on cards conveyed a heartfelt longing to share with our Bethel homebound that they are in this together.

As we are all “homebound” for a time in this pandemic, it is my prayer that you are assured that you are not alone. You are valid and loved, and Christ is with you and will provide all you need from day to day. Jesus says to you, “Stand up, take your mat, and walk,” I have made you whole.

Graced by the Gospel,
Pastor Anjanette