WORD of the Week: TEACH
On Sunday we lit the second candle on the Advent wreath and our worship services also marked the second step in a transition of our Bethel Pastoral Team. Our pastors are taking on new titles and responsibilities as we serve the congregation in this new chapter of ministry. Sunday we formally installed Pastor Jason Burggraff into his title and role of Associate Pastor-Education. It was almost exactly eight years ago in mid-December that Pastor Jason and his new bride Erin and her three children, Anna, Lukas, and Wesley Thompson were welcomed to the Bethel family. Pastor Jason’s call to serve was Pastor of Children, Youth, and Family, and he has done so faithfully in these past years. (And, it might also be worth noting that in these past eight years, Pastor Jason and Erin have welcomed three additional children into their family—Rafe, Josiah, and Solveig Burggraff!)
Recognizing Pastor Jason’s great gifts and love for teaching and preaching, this role of Associate Pastor-Education will open up new opportunities to develop Bible studies and small group studies allowing Bethel members to engage in learning and growing through God’s Word.
As part of the liturgy of installation, we read verses from 1 Timothy, chapter 4. They are words first spoken from a mentor/teacher to a student. The Apostle Paul gives a young preacher, Timothy, these words of advice:
“Set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
Attend to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching.
Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.
Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:12–16)
Our Lutheran tradition has always lifted up the importance of teaching and learning. It is why we have amazing colleges and universities (Luther College, Augsburg University, St. Olaf College, Gustavus Adolphus College, etc.) that have been born from our Lutheran roots to educate future leaders and develop our vocational call to serve God. In addition, it is why our congregations make it a priority to offer Adult Forums and Bible study fellowship. Clearly, teaching has been and will continue to be a priority at Bethel.
In this time of pandemic, each ministry area has had to adapt, including our opportunities to teach. Pastor Jason has prepared weekly bible studies for a group that once met on Monday night and Wednesday mornings. If you’ve ever wondered what a Bible study might be like, click here and give it a try! He even includes a joke or two! Did you know that there is a whole library of resources provided through our Adult Education Team that can be accessed here and provides wonderful opportunities to learn? Perhaps, with extra time in these days of being at home, this might be something to explore to fill your mind, gain new understandings into scripture, and support your life of faith.
We need teachers in order that we might learn and grow, and the church is a place where we have many opportunities to be educated. My brother and my two sisters-in-law are public school teachers. I have been especially aware of the gifts of teachers as they (and many educators you know and love) have had to adapt to the challenges of distance learning or a hybrid of learning models in these past nine months. In these coming weeks and months, I encourage you to look for ways to support those who teach through your prayers or encouraging words. And, as Bethel continues to offer and develop opportunities to learn through teaching ministries, I ask you to keep an open mind and perhaps a willingness to try out something new. “To put these things into practice, and devote yourself to them.” (1 Timothy 4:15)
Graced by the Gospel,