Bethesda is many things.
It’s a beautiful space to worship. It’s a place where angelic voices rise to dark wooden beams and twinkling rays of light catch the colored pattern on the face of a saint and shine on a hard stone floor. It’s a place that smells like hints of incense mixed with floral fragrances, oils, and perfume. It’s a place of discovery, where rounding the corner of a cloister reveals a stunning array of living things, gardens teeming with life.
Bethesda is a people, a community. It is a place where clergy and laity strive to do the work of the kingdom of God. It’s a place that clutches babies tight as water trickles down their temples and a room full of people promise to do everything in their power to support that little life in a timeless faith. It’s a place where we grieve the loss of those who have gone to their place in glory, where we wonder at the mystery of a life well-lived and the amazing truth that we are luminous primates, fallen creatures who are God’s beloved. It’s a small community in the grand history of the Christian church, but one that has the power and potential to move the mountains of sin and injustice through a combined commitment to recognizing the divinity and humanity in our neighbors, stirring the heart of God by simply feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.
Bethesda is many things, but at its core it is a home and a family, a place where baptismal water is thicker than blood. This Christmas we walked the grounds of our beautiful home recognizing that the Holy Family was searching for theirs. We followed the light of our child savior not to the grand and ornate, but to a simple creche, a humble manger. Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. That is what our pilgrimage reminds us, that we are at once home in this place and, at the same time, not at home in this world. Never truly at home until we are resting in the arms of God for eternity.
Our Christian journey will seem hard and tiring, but it will be the greatest thing we do with our lives. Our purpose will seem elusive, but Christ will always call us to the right road. We will witness glorious things and our hearts will be broken, but we will always be able to find our way home to this thin space where we use our simple human efforts to glimpse the heavenly landscape of God. Godspeed on your continuing pilgrimage.
Director of Children and Youth Ministries