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The Most Excellent Way: Love!

The Most Excellent Way: Love!

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your means. - Deuteronomy 6:4-5

by Wynn Stenftenagel on June 01, 2022

My last blog at Bethany. Here I am, tasked with saying my goodbye, with writing about my favorites, my key moments with the Bethany family. So many and too many to describe. If we walked them together, you know! You know about the “burning bush” place that is holy ground for me, where the sacred breaks in and the Spirit makes beautiful connections happen. (ICYMI, that space is just outside the main office, by the elevators and stairs and long hallway, just inside from the inner courtyard.) I have witnessed and been a part of dozens of incredible moments there where people connect in meaningful ways, where new relationships begin and ministries are born. You know I love being a guiding and safe person for those who are hurting, especially in those tender seasons of faith shaken and faith restored. You know how much I have learned (“You’ve come a long way, Wynn!”) and maybe a little bit of what you yourself have taught me as we have shared life and ministry.

You know I was not a pastor when I came here and that I did not intend to be, but serving and leading at Bethany changed me. I fell in love with Bethany (and being a pastor!) in 2006 as an intern when I saw what I crave from a theological perspective – practical divinity. Brothers and sisters in Christ, you lived out your faith, not sitting on beliefs and dogma, but putting into action what you know about God through the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I fell in love with the diversity of thought in theology and ideology with the Bethany family, that was so beautiful, and Bethany allowed space for it! This church was open to trying new things and okay if things didn’t succeed. I fell in love with the worship support team, who were always my favorite until, of course, compassion ministries of care and prayer and missions became my tribe. Y’all have my heart.

What you don’t know is what will come next. For Bethany, or for me. Neither do I! I am not making plans, although I have a lot of ideas. What I can say of that is we know that if we will pursue God’s will for our lives, it will be good. Several years ago, with Pastor Sheri Clifton, we organized a trip to the Holy Land and called it an Excellent Adventure, borrowing the title of Bill and Ted’s first movie. I am going to borrow from them again, with the quote, “Be excellent to each other.” This is my prayer now for Bethany. Beloveds, be excellent to each other by sharing only Christ and the love with which God first gave us, and is now ours to pour into the world. Turn away from loving the things of the world more than you love God’s creation and creatures in it. Be excellent at claiming who you are as a child of God who chooses to follow Jesus, and cast off the labels you put on yourself and others beyond that, in all the ways you relate to each other. Resist allowing the world to tell you who you are and who others are. Be excellent to each other no matter the circumstances, because the circumstances should not change your identity as children of God who follow Jesus.

It's wonderful to have so many excellent memories of you all. My spirit longs for you to remember, more than those memories, the Shema: Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your means. That would be excellent

Blessings on the Journey,
Pastor Wynn

P.S Though apart, our adventures will continue. I will share highlights of mine on social media as Wynn Stenftenagel on Facebook and Instagram.

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