Dear People of Bethesda-by-the-Sea,

It was early on a Saturday morning. I was preparing a quick breakfast and trying not to wake my family with rattling pans before I set out on my day.

I did not hear or see but rather felt a presence. “Hi, Daddy,” said Mary Blair, then age 5, now 28. Even five-year-olds are glassy-eyed at that hour, and Mary Blair was staring straight ahead. Eye-level for her was the bacon I was frying.

“Daddy, what’s sex?” she asked.

Grease splashes. Heart misses a beat. At 6:30 a.m. reaction time is slow, but mild panic is setting in.

“Ummm …..,” I said. “What’s sex?”

Mary Blair, now quite awake: “Yes, Daddy. You heard me. What’s sex?”

“Well,” I said authoritatively (while running through possible answers and quickly running out of them), “That’s a good question, Mary Blair. How’d you come up with it?”

Impatience rising in her, Mary Blair said, “I’m looking at that coffee pot. See. S – i – x. Sex. What is it?”

“Oh, well!” (Relief is spelled s – i – x) “That’s six, not sex. That means six cups in that pot.”

“O.k., Daddy. Thanks.”

Real life grants few reprieves, but I added a quite specific thanks to the General Thanksgiving in church the next day.

I like to think of myself as prepared for many tasks, but explaining sex, without warning, to a five-year-old, at dawn, is clearly not one of them. This note isn’t about sex, either. It’s about asking questions, seeking truth, learning faith, serving the neighbor, and growing in grace.

One of the most important things we do at Bethesda-by-the-Sea is invite people into circles of inquiry, formation, and ministry — for all ages, including five-year-olds and their questions.

This fall we have some exciting opportunities for Christian formation and lay ministries. The children’s ministry team and the youth ministry group are planning many activities to engage our younger people. And we have offerings for adults — on Sundays and during the week. Please consider making a new commitment to participate in one of the adult classes on Sundays, Wednesdays, and on other occasions, beginning September 19. And join us this Sunday for the “Bethesda — Welcome Home” gathering, including a ministry fair and catered picnic lunch.

Bob Dannals
Interim Rector