A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: HIGHLIGHTS FOR THIS SUNDAY
This week I want to talk about two important things happening in the life of the church this Sunday. First, we are entering a new season on the Christian calendar, which is not actually a season at all! You’ll see on the summer worship bulletins that we simply count each Sunday as “The ______ Sunday After Pentecost,” which is mostly due to a lack of anything else significant about it. An alternative way of talking about this “season” is simply as Ordinary Time, meaning there is nothing special being commemorated such as Lent, Advent, Easter, etc.
So as we begin this season of “Ordinary Time,” which will last until Advent begins next December, I thought we’d start with something a little different and a little playful that more than a few of you have suggested over the last couple of years, and that is a sermon series on “The Gospel According to Ted Lasso.”
If you’ve missed it, Ted Lasso has been both a television show and a cultural phenomenon since 2020, when it burst on the scene during the worst part of the pandemic and offered a desperately needed salve to our culture’s soul with its focus on believing in a better future of community, kindness, friendship, and personal growth, improbably wrapped in the comic story of an American football coach who is hired to lead a British Premier League soccer club despite knowing nothing about either soccer or Britain.
You can watch it on Apple TV, and you can even get a 3-month free trial subscription through Best Buy without purchasing anything; just Google “free Apple TV Best Buy” and follow the links. You will NOT have to have seen the show to appreciate the sermons, however.
For the month of June, we’ll be looking at several of the popular show’s key themes. One could argue that Coach Lasso himself is a Christ figure, but we’re going to go deeper than that, because what makes the show truly great is how adroitly it avoids sentimentality and is willing to take on issues like mental health, grief, and generational trauma in ways that are realistic and insightful.
So this first week, we’re going to start with perhaps the central theme of the show, what it means to “Believe.” Believing is obviously a central theme of Christianity, as well, but there are many layers to what it can and should mean in both the show and in the Christian faith that may not always be appreciated. So that is where we are going to begin!
The second important thing happening this Sunday right after worship – which will be Fellowship Hall – is the first of three “Lunch and Learn” gatherings hosted by the Mission Strategy Steering Committee over the summer. This event will also be in Fellowship Hall.
Each “Lunch and Learn” will focus on one of the major opportunities the Committee has found in its work for how we might further our mission as a congregation through serving our neighbors in need and helping them thrive more fully in life.
This Sunday will focus on the issue of housing, and we will have two distinguished guests speaking with us: Abby Goldfarb, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Council of Churches, and Gwen Didden, Executive Director of Berks and Northampton Counties Housing Authorities. Both of our guests have significant professional insight and experience on the issues of housing in our community, but both have also had personal experience facing housing insecurity themselves, and so they can speak to the issues on multiple levels.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what’s going on all around us in Bethlehem. You are encouraged but not required to bring some kind of dish for lunch that can be shared; I hope to see you there!
Grace and Peace,