This last week, your three pastors had the opportunity to spend time in Welches, OR at the annual Bishop’s Convocation. Convo is a time to renew friendships, to rest and relax a little, and to focus on a specific topic for a couple of days. On our first day, we were talking with a group about the churches we served when the imagery of a geothermal heating system
came to mind. Here’s what I mean: Bethesda has many deep wells. These wells include the many Bible study groups that meet; these wells include the many small groups that meet for faith and fellowship; these wells include the many volunteer opportunities at Bethesda; these wells also include the preaching and teaching done by your three pastors.
As I have been reviewing the many responses that we received from the listening season, I both recognize those deep wells and I also recognize the need for good circulation. Many hopes and dreams for Bethesda include getting to know one another better, having that sense of being connected and being deepened in the study of scripture together. And I realize that for those who are part of a deep well, you know your group well, you feel connected and you may spend time in deep study of scripture together. But, for the geothermal heating system to work the water has to circulate through the entire system. For the congregation of Bethesda to be the most faithful, the Spirit of depth and fellowship and connectedness has to circulate throughout the entire system. Some who are new to Bethesda have experienced the surface of who we can be together and they want to go deeper. Others who have been part of a deep well for some time may need to be stirred and circulated for the sake of our community. And, there are others who have been part of a deep well in the past who are now ready to come up to the surface and test the waters of another well. It takes both the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of each of us to make sure that the Spirit of Bethesda is constantly circulating throughout.
Here’s where the geothermal analogy falls short. A geothermal system is a closed system meaning that the same water is pumped through the system over and over again. Bethesda has another well, an open well that flows out into the community. It is the way that new people flow into Bethesda and it is also the way that we are sent out for the sake of the world. Our system isn’t closed! Instead, it is in a constant motion. But the flow can’t simply be barely below the surface; the flow needs to go deep and wide and out and in and up and down and…(get the picture?). Our prayer as your pastors is that the Spirit continues to flow in all directions and that we continue to follow where that most Holy Spirit leads.