Stewardship Season is a wonderful season – it is a gift. It is a time in which we are given the opportunity to recommit ourselves to God and to our church.
Next Sunday is our Stewardship Dedication Sunday. So, if you haven’t already done so, spend some time this week in discernment, reflecting upon our call to glorify God through worship and work. I encourage you then to use the pledge card in your stewardship package to capture part of what you plan to do next year for and through this church, viewing stewardship as a gift and an opportunity to recommit to God’s work.
You know, Stewardship Season is commonly associated with money. It is true that joyful, generous financial giving is an important, long-established, scripture-based spiritual discipline. And using the pledge card to communicate our financial commitment to the church does enable our church leadership to make informed and wise decisions going into the new year. Nevertheless, the truth is that money is not what’s really on my mind this morning when I think about commitment to our church.
Again, it’s an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
When I mentioned recommitting to our church, I was primarily thinking about the commitments that we made when we joined this church. Paraphrasing just a bit:
• We acknowledged that we are w/o hope w/o God’s mercy.
• We vowed that we believe in Jesus as the Son of God and our savior.
• We vowed that we, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, would endeavor to live in a way becoming followers of Jesus.
And we promised to support the Church – this church – in its worship and work to the best or our ability.
The wonderful thing about stewardship season is that it’s a chance to celebrate that we’re “all in” – not just our money. We are fully “in” with all of the faith, effort, work, challenges, and joy that our commitment as members of this church entails.
Margaret and I spent roughly the first halves of our lives as United Methodists. Much like the promise we Presbyterians make to support the church to the best of our abilities, Methodists vow to support the church with their “prayer, presence, gifts, and service.”
I frankly think we are at a critical juncture in this church. We could be scared by that, or we could decide that we are in the midst of an exciting time. I believe it’s an exciting time for us at First Presbyterian. And I believe we will succeed in glorifying God if we commit to supporting this church with our prayers, presence, gifts, and service.
As you reflect this week upon your stewardship commitment, I encourage you to commit:
• To pray for this church every day.
• To be present. If you are in town and your ox is not in a ditch, come to worship; and look for other opportunities, like Sunday School, to make meaningful connections with others – people with whom you’ve lost a connection, people you don’t know well, people of a different generation.
• To be thoughtful and imaginative about the gifts and talents that God has given you and how you can use those gifts to enhance the worship and work of this church.
• To continue the proud heritage of service to and through 1st Pres.
First Presbyterian Church
100 West Church Circle – Kingsport, TN 37660 – 423-245-0104
“Everything we have comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand.” (1st Chronicles 29:11-24)
October 1, 2015
Dear Members and Friends of First Presbyterian Church:
Our Stewardship Scripture Verse comes from the last chapter in 1st Chronicles. King David is handing over his throne to his son, Solomon. In his last act of office, David is leading a stewardship campaign for the building of God’s temple, the construction of which Solomon will oversee. But dad helps raise the funds for what will be his son’s greatest legacy. David knows that many Israelites may balk at the cost of the temple’s construction, but David reminds them, “This is not just a place for people to meet each other, but a house for God to meet us.” David attests to his own commitment to the project, and then asks, “And now, how about you? Who among you is ready and willing to join in the giving?” The inspiring story proclaims, “Ready and willing [everyone] stepped forward and gave willingly.” And the story goes on to say, “And the people were full of a sense of celebration – all that giving! And all giving willingly, freely!”
And that is when we come to our Stewardship Scripture Verse. David sets a proper theological understanding of Stewardship: “Everything we have comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand….it all came from you!” And David concludes this passage by exclaiming, “…I have given from the heart, honestly and happily. And now I see all these people doing the same, giving freely, willingly – what a joy!”
October is Stewardship Season, a time to raise the funds to maintain the house where God meets us, provide the salaries of our staff members who support and/or lead the missions and ministries of our church, purchase curriculum and resources for our Christian Education and spiritual formation, provide for Christian fellowship, and fund outreach to “the least of these” and outreach proclaiming the Gospel “to the ends of the earth.” As King David challenged his people to give willingly and freely, so I challenge you. “[H]ow about you? Who among you is ready and willing to join in the giving?”
As the story is told, the people of Israel gave willingly, and they gave generously, and they even gave sacrificially. They put God first in their lives. And then a surprising thing happened. They experienced great joy! And that is my hope and prayer for us this Stewardship Season. Our Stewardship Theme this year is “Joyful Giving; Joyful Living; Joyful Church.” If we give joyfully as a church, we will live joyfully as a church; therefore, we will be a joyful church.
In the Bible story, King David prays, “I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface – you want us, our true selves – and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily.” Please honestly and prayerfully seek God’s will for your giving to the mission and ministry of our church in 2016. Fill out the enclosed pledge card, and readily and willingly step forward and give joyfully on Stewardship Sunday (November 1). Then let us all join together in the Fellowship Hall after worship to celebrate “all that giving! And all giving willingly, freely!” “What a joy!”
In Christ’s Service,
David A. Cagle