put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
When I was growing up our Sunday School teachers would give us folders to take home each Advent and Lent. The folders had slots, each of which held a quarter, that were marked for each day of the season. We were encouraged to embrace the discipline of adding a coin to the folder each day, while also offering a prayer of thanks or praise to God. Keeping the discipline was a challenge sometimes because as a child I didn’t have access to a lot of money, and in those days that twenty-five cents could also buy a ten-cent Coke and a handful of penny candies. After a week or so of filling the slots in the folder, it got easier to resist the temptation to spend the money that I earned doing extra chores at home or around the neighborhood on myself. In finding something to thank or praise God for each day, I gained a deeper sense of the goodness of God and how blessed I was to be loved by Him.
Each child and adult received one of these folders. It always gave me a sense of joy and satisfaction to put the last quarter in the folder at the end of the season and put it in the offering plate on the day that they were gathered and dedicated to the Lord’s service. My congregation shared half of the amount of the gifts offered this way to bless a community organization that served people in need, and we used the other half to expand our own church’s ministries that sought to help others. All of those smaller, individual gifts combined together to provide the resources for our continued growth in faith and a sense of connection with the community around us.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of those folders, but that early practice helped me to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and mindfulness that shape both my devotional life and my expressions of personal stewardship to this day. The understanding that all that we have comes from the hand of a loving God, and that our growth as people and as a fellowship of faith are guided and blessed by that same God can be a source of great comfort and joy. Our God longs to bless us and help us to grow in our ability to be a blessing. He is with us, and helps us to discern how best to answer his call to share his gifts with a world that aches to feel His presence and hear the Good News He brings.
As a congregation, we are in the midst of a vital time of discernment and an exciting time of promise! As we look back with thanks and praise that God has sustained and provided for Faith’s ministries for the last 50 years, we can also look forward with confidence that He will continue to grow and bless and transform us as we ask Him to guide our visioning and planning processes. As we prepare to give thanks and praise to God for the gifts of provision, family, friends and faith this Thanksgiving season, He calls us to consider offering some of those gifts back to Him so that He can bless, heal and transform those we touch through the work of His Church.
In this next week or so, I pray that you will take some time each day to reflect on how God has brought you to this place in your life – the gifts and abilities He has given you and how He has helped you to develop them, the many people whom he has provided along the way to guide and support you in your growth, and the ways the church has fostered your awareness of His goodness and grace. Think about the ways you can contribute and serve that will allow your joy, passion, and abilities to ignite passion and devotion in others. Consider making a sacrifice of time – a sacrifice of thanksgiving – so that we can grow in our ability to reach and be models of faithfulness and devotion for our children and those who struggle to grow in their awareness of God’s presence and purpose in their lives. Your individual gifts of time, talents and treasures combined with the gifts of others will provide the abundant resources we need to shore up the firm foundation of our life together, and allow us to expand our ministries to embrace and develop the creative ideas with which He inspires us as we vision and dream together.
I am confident that our reflection, prayer, and willingness to share from the store of goodness that God has given us will fill our hearts with a renewed sense of trust and thanks to God. He will multiply and bless each and every gift so that all that we are and all that we do as His people will bring glory and honor to the God of all good gifts! On November 1st, when we gather and celebrate our expressions of commitment and willingness to serve, Our Lord will rejoice that with us that we know and trust the one from whom all blessings flow!
Pastor Eileen update- August 2015
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’
Please remember that we will continue to worship together at one Sunday service each week. Educational ministries will resume on September 13th. Our Sunday morning schedule going forward will be:
9:00 Education Hour/Coffee and Refreshments/Fellowship
11:00 Coffee and Refreshments/Fellowship
I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts about worship styles during last week’s service. Clearly, the way we worship is near and dear to all of us. I realize that there was no clear conclusion stated at the end our discussion. In an effort to honor the needs and desires you expressed, and to allow for a balanced worship life, the new arrangement for services will be:
1st and 3rd Sundays – Traditional worship using the ELW hymnal
2nd and 4th Sundays – Contemporary Worship
5th Sundays – Healing Service
As a staff, we are taking steps to enrich and deepen our worship experiences regardless of the words we speak or the songs/hymns we sing. While worshipping together as one will mean making some adjustments, I pray that we can all be patient throughout the process and regularly attend and participate in worship. One of the greatest gifts we can give to each other is our presence here and our active contributions to the discussions and discernment about our future as God’s church. Each and every one of us can make significant contributions if we choose to invest our time and energy and share our thoughts.
Our joint worship throughout this next year will help solidify our sense of community, facilitate the visioning and planning process led by the Transition Team, and enhance our communication with one another. As we gather to praise and thank the God we love and serve as He guides us in our discerning, visioning and planning for our future together, please pray for the Spirit’s blessing on us. On September 13th, the Transition Team will present a survey through which each of us share your thoughts and ideas so that we can begin building on a strong foundation. We hope you will join participate in this vital step of the process. Let us live out our unity in Christ in spirit and in truth, with great hope!