Pastor’s Corner (10/22/2020)
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Last week I was able to participate in a retreat for pastors held in Nebraska City. Our number was small, about a dozen people, and we masked and socially distanced. Our presentations were done on Zoom. We strove to be together responsibly in the midst of our pandemic. The focus of this retreat was finance, finances for us as pastors and for our congregations. A presenter for the Presbyterian Foundation gave a presentation about stewardship. What struck me about this presentation was the foundational message of gratitude. As we find ourselves in the midst of our stewardship campaign here at FCC, I think it is easy to lose sight of this foundational principle. Our motivation, like most other churches, is the creation of a congregational budget for 2021. While this is important, it is easy to lose sight of the foundation for our giving. Stewardship is a faith issue. We give as an expression of our gratitude to God for all we have. As we grow in faith we come to realize that stewardship is about more than only money. Faithful stewardship is about how we use our time, talents, and resources to serve God. Faithful stewardship is about how we manifest God’s reign in our congregation, our community, our nation, and our world.
Faithful stewardship is based on a sense of gratitude. The sense that we have, and we are, enough. We are able to share from this place of gratitude. During our retreat we were reminded of the importance of acknowledging and celebrating those things for which we are grateful. A good place to begin for each of us, and all of us as a community, is to ask: “what am I/what are we good at?” As Moderator of the Ministry Cabinet I asked: “what do we do well here at FC?” I also asked the Cabinet to reflect on “what have we done well this year during this pandemic?” and “where would we like to focus as we prepare for 2021?” We had a lively discussion.
It probably demonstrates my bias, but, I think we do worship well here at FCC. We have great music and gifted people who participate in the preparation and implementation of meaningful worship. Throughout this pandemic we have worked hard to keep people connected to God through various modes of worship. We are regularly assessing and revamping things as we move along. We have video, audio, print, and in-person worship weekly. Others commented that we have maintained a presence in our neighborhood and community. Others commented that we have continued to improve the gifts of our property and building which provides a safe haven for many. A sense of gratitude for all these things, and more, empowers us to constantly evaluate and improve on our ministries here at FCC.
We do not know what 2021 will look like for us or for the world, however, we affirm “This I Know: Trusting a Known God with Our Unknown Future,” the motto for our stewardship campaign and for the upcoming year. We will be empowered to face that future and trust in God as we celebrate with gratitude all that we have and all that we are. Gratitude will enable each of us, and all of us, to give fully of our time, talent and resources.
With a grateful heart,