Friends in Christ,
I am grateful for the privilege of serving among the faithful people of this congregation, and to invite you to use this month to consider the benefits of the “abundant life” which Jesus offers to all who choose to be in meaningful relationship with him. While faithful discipleship requires a significant intentionality and commitment, the Gospel truth also is that life in Jesus is simple, less stressful, and more balanced. Our Lord promised that with him, our burden is light, and our lives become easier and better focused. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” says Jesus, “for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Wouldn’t a “soul-full” rest be a great antidote to the hurry and worry and scurry that can overtake us, and limit our joy! You and I can choose to hitch our wagons to the anxiety and fears and divisive nature of the surrounding culture. That strain can seep in, but it will be less likely to take a foothold when we choose the life of abundance by following Jesus. Throughout October, I invite you to participate in a month of discovery on how to “Live Simply” – aligned with our faith, and seeking the peace and joy which comes to those who are generous and grateful.
As you did last fall, our Stewardship theme for 2017-2018 will again be “Live Simply.” I appreciate the outline selected for us, and endorsed by the elders of our Session:
• live simply as we follow Jesus • live simply with the support of our church family
• explore the truth about our consumer culture • live simply by living with and sharing “enough”
Each week we will focus on one of these themes during worship in creative and inviting ways, becoming practical in seeking simplicity and contentment, less hurried and less worried. We hope you will be present to participate eagerly each Sunday morning.
As you experience the Live Simply theme, we encourage you to prayerfully consider your commitment for the coming year. I like to call the response cards an “Estimate of Giving.” I encourage you to take this decision seriously, and hope you will take a step forward in your financial participation. Your household’s card for 2018 will be in the mail next week, or pick one up the next time you’re at the church building. Before you complete your 2018 estimate though, invest thoughtful consideration, open-hearted prayer, and family conversation about how generosity actually relieves money worries.
If you will be realistic, accurate and bold in presenting your estimate, the other congregational leaders and I will be able to shape a fruitful plan for mission and ministry for the year ahead. (One other point I’d like to raise: congregational budgeting during a church’s transitional year can be an important factor which will shape the chapter ahead.) When we live more simply, we are free to show more compassion, carry out more life-changing action, and demonstrate deeper thankfulness for our God from whom all blessings flow.
Wishing you deep peace, and life-changing joy!
Rev Greg Gillispie
While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: "This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him."
"...they became deeply aware of God."
We have a tendency to separate our experience of the Divine, our religious life, from our practical daily life. Our days are full of appointments, work, school, practices, and leisure. Perhaps we are a bit like Peter, babbling on about how nice it would be to settle down a bit. But if our actions don't match our desires, this is an empty prayer.
Deep awareness of God comes with practice. The practice is making space for God to enter in by striving to live a holy life, such as reading scripture, praying, and treating others, especially those whom nobody loves, with love.
As you read this, I invite you to pause for just a moment, to slow down long enough to imagine that at this very moment a bright, shining cloud of the love of God envelopes you and those around you. How does that change you? How does it change the way you see those around you? How might the rest of your day be just a little bit different because you have become just a little bit more aware that where you go, the presence of God goes with you.