Blessed Thanksgiving

Rev. Rick MixonA blessed Thanksgiving to you all!

Thanks to everyone who pitched in last week to help with the Gratitude Dinner and to all those who signed up to help with coffee hour in the upcoming weeks. There are still some slots open and I would be grateful for your help. Remember that we will be decorating the church for the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany season. We can use everyone’s help – young and old alike.

Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent. This is meant to be a quiet time do sacred contemplation in anticipation of the Christmas event when God enters our reality in human form. I imagine this is a challenge for most of usm given the frenetic pace of actitvity that has come to characterize this time of year. Hopefully our schedule for the season will help you find time and space to prepare for the coming of Christ.

I am grateful to everyone who participated in the Advent Planning Workshop and to Dan Cudworth, Jan and Greg who met with me this week to work further on the services for the season. I am excited about lies ahead for us as we worship, study and work for realization of God’s Beloved Community in our misdst, beginning with a baby born in Bethlehem.

On this first Sunday, we will focus on two texts – Psalm 25, with its affimation of God’s steadfast love and mercy, even in the hardest times; and on Jeremiah’s great affirmation of hope for the future, written from prison as the world he knew was crumbling around him. How do we hold hope and let it shape our lives when we are confronted with wars and rumors of war, threats and acts of terror, economic uncertainty and pressure to perform. All these and more generate an atmosphere of fear. But our word for the time is hope because the future is in God’s hands. We begin Advent, expectantly, that our hopes will be fulfilled.

See you Sunday at 10:00 AM ready to worship, learn and share. Bring someone with you and stay to “Hang the Greens – and blues and whites and golds!

May we continue to grow together as God’s people.

Pastor Rick

This Week at First Baptist (11/25/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday- Friday, November 25-26, 2015, Thanksgiving Holiday Office closed.
  • Sunday, November 29, 2015, First Sunday of Advent
    10:00 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    Hope Bubbles Up,” Psalm 25:1-10, Jeremiah 33:14-16; Rick Mixon preaching.11:30 AM: Hanging of the Greens
    We will decorate the church for the Advent to Epiphany season. There will be activities for all ages. Partake of refreshments and help make our Advent to Epiphany Worship a warm and colorful reality.
  • Tuesday, December 1, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 2:30 PM: Meditation Group led by Charlotte Jackson at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos.
  • Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 6:00 PM: Taizé Service at First Presbyterian Church, 1140 Cowper Street, Palo Alto

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Sunday, December 6, 2015, Second Sunday of Advent
    10:00 AM: Worship for the whole family and Communion
    Peace Blows In,” Psalm 25:1-10, Rick Mixon preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Saving Jesus Redux: The World into which Jesus Was Born, Rick Mixon leading
  • Sunday, December 6, 2015, 12:45 PM: Lunch Bunch at Celia’s Mexican Restaurant, 3740 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. Everyone welcome. Let Melanie Ramirez or Alan Plessinger know if you’re planning to attend

This Week at First Baptist (11/18/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, November 19, 2015, 12:00 Noon: Senior Connections Book Club at First Baptist Church. We will continue our discussion of When I Was a Child I Read Books, a collection of essays by Pulitzer prize-winning author, Marilynne Robinson. We will also choose a new book for our December meeting. Bring a bag lunch, beverage will be provided. Invite your friends and neighbors.
  • Thursday, November 19, 2015, 5:00 PM: Church Council meeting in the Parlor.
  • Thursday, November 19, 2015, 7:30 PM: Choir Rehearsal in the Parlor. Come for the music, fun and fellowship. Lift your voice in joyful song! All are welcome.
  • Sunday, November 22, 2015: Reign of Christ Sunday
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    Rick Mixon, Preaching
    11:30 AM: Gratitude Dinner for folk of all ages in the Fellowship Hall. Join us for an intergenerational potluck dinner and celebration of all for which we are grateful. Bring a dish to share. Invite a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join us in this time of celebration!
  • Sunday, November 22, 2015, 7:00 PM: The Blessings of Water. Annual Palo Alto Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Featuring the Gordon Stewart Peninsula Trombone Choir, Storytellers, Leaders from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu Faith Communities, and dancers from many cultures. Congregation Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto.
  • Tuesday, November 24, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Tuesday, November 24, 2015, 2:30 PM: Meditation Group led by Charlotte Jackson at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Sunday, November 29, 2015, First Sunday of Advent
    10:00 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    “Advent Hope,” Psalm 25:1-10, Rick Mixon preaching.

    11:30 AM: Hanging of the Greens
    We will decorate the church for the Advent to Epiphany season. There will be activities for all ages. Partake of refreshments and help make our Advent to Epiphany Worship a warm and colorful reality.

This Week at First Baptist (11/11/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • NO Church Choir  this week; rehearsals resume on November 19.

 

  • Sunday, November 15, 2015: 25th Sunday after Pentecost
    10:00 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    Future Hope,” Mark 13:1-8, Rick Mixon preaching.11:30 AM- 1:00 PM: Love Came Down- Advent Planning Workshop
    Pastors Rick and Gregory will lead the congregation in a process of planning this for year’s Advent/Christmas worship. Everyone of every age is encouraged to participate in this opportunity to make the sacred season even more meaningful for your sharing
  • Tuesday, November 17, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 2:30 PM: Meditation Group led by Charlotte Jackson at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos.
  • Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Thursday, November 19, 2015, 12:00 Noon: Senior Connections Book Club at First Baptist Church. We will continue our discussion of When I Was a Child I Read Books, a collection of essays by Pulitzer prize-winning author, Marilynne Robinson. We will also choose a new book for our December meeting. Bring a bag lunch, beverage will be provided. Invite your friends and neighbors.
  • Sunday, November 22, 2015: Reign of Christ Sunday
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    Rick Mixon, Preaching
    11:30 AM: Gratitude Dinner for folk of all ages in the Fellowship Hall. Join us for an intergenerational potluck dinner and celebration of all for which we are grateful. Bring a dish to share. Invite a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join us in this time of celebration!
  • Sunday, November 22, 2015, 7:00 PM: The Blessings of Water. Annual Palo Alto Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Featuring the Gordon Stewart Peninsula Trombone Choir, Storytellers, Leaders from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu Faith Communities, and dancers from many cultures. Congregation Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto.

Hope of the World (November 23, 2014)

Rev. Rick MixonA sermon preached by Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Texts: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 15:4-13

 

It seems that today’s worship service is, of necessity, a hybrid. To begin with it is Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. As one liturgical year draws to a close and we anticipate a new one in the season of Advent, it seems appropriate to recognize and celebrate the fulfillment of the Christhood in life of the child whose birth we will soon recognize and celebrate. The story comes full circle and begins again. The little boy soon to be born once more ascends into heaven to sit at the right hand of God in glory.

And of course it is the season of the great US holiday, Thanksgiving, with its dual emphasis on family togetherness and conspicuous consumption. Surely we must sing either “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” or “We Gather Together,” along with other songs of thankfulness for God’s blessings. Before facing “Black Friday and its aftermath, we will gather around tables groaning with the abundance of the feast. We will share the things for which we are grateful before eating ourselves into a stupor and falling asleep before televised football games or seasonal spectaculars.

Many congregations plan their annual stewardship drives to culminate on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, taking advantage of the generous spirit the season evokes. We are no exception.   Today we have asked you to bring your pledges of support so that we might budget responsibly for the ministries of First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, in the coming year. Laura and I and others have asked and will continue to urge you to give generously in the spirit of gratitude for all that with which you have been blessed. As I have said once already this season, I am not embarrassed to ask you to give to support the budget because I believe in the ministries of this church and I believe in your witness as part of God’s beloved community. This congregation – that is, us – matters in this community and in the larger world as we worship, learn, care and serve together.

Then we have been on this journey with Brian McLaren, trying to understand how “we make the road by walking.” Because we need to move on to Advent next week, there were two chapters of the book and six wonderful scripture texts to consider for this week. If you’re not feeling a little overwhelmed by all this, you can rest assured that I am. However, undaunted by the overabundance of possibilities, we plunge ahead. Perhaps we will find a convergence of all the themes laid out before us for today. It is not unlike the rich array of dishes laid out for us at Friday’s Gratitude potluck, which, in the end, made a meal!

So let’s pick up where we left off last week. If you remember, our “Song for Sending Out” was the great hymn by Georgia Harkness, “Hope of the World.” This is one of my favorites and its words remained with me through the week, especially its opening phrase, “Hope of the world, O Christ of great compassion.”

I suppose on Christ the King Sunday the tendency is to think of Christ enthroned in glory. I know that when I googled images there was a rich collection of paintings, carvings and mosaics of the triumphant Christ, crowned in splendor. Still, there is something compelling in the Harkness image of Christ who, because of his compassion, is the hope of the world. We can glory in Christ ascendant. We can sing wholeheartedly the hymns to the Christ who reigns with God in heaven: “Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne…” But how well do we understand this God who takes on human form and dwells among us out of concern for the well-being of creation?

It’s a challenging paradox, this God of glory who is also the Christ of great compassion. Hear Harkness’s prayerful words once more:

Hope of the world, O Christ of great compassion:
speak to our fearful hearts by conflict rent.
Save us, your people, from consuming passion,
who by our own false hopes and aims are spent.

In the midst of abundance and celebration, do these words speak to you? Fearful hearts, conflict rent, consuming passion, false hopes and aims? Does any of that sound familiar? I think both Isaiah and Paul heard something of Harkness’s longing in today’s texts.

Paul is writing to a people by “conflict rent.” There was a battle going on among the Christ followers in Rome between Jews and Gentiles. If it was not an all out dispute between who was in and who was out, there was certainly tension between who was more and less favored. We may not be caught up in that particular conflict, but how many such battles can we identify in our world today and how many of them affect our own lives, at least indirectly? Can you name a few?

Paul says that this is the “hope” we find in the scriptures, that “…the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant[s us] to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together [we] may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He goes on to explain how the Jewish Messiah is also the Christ who welcomes all, Gentiles included, from before the beginning of time. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike find their hope. Hope of the world – not just part of the world, not just some of the people, not just aspects of creation – it’s the whole wide world.

Perhaps Paul’s vision was well summarized in this morning’s special music:

Many members, one body; many hearts, one hope, one faith in You.

            And when we disagree teach our eyes to see that we are one

in the family of faith, the family of faith, joined by the miracle of grace.

 

We are brothers, we are sisters…children of the one Creator of all.

            So as we live and grow, help us always know, that we are one

in the family of faith…

Compassion does that to you. It makes you aware of all that’s around you. It helps you hear the hopes and fears, the dreams and challenges of others. It give you access to the hearts and minds of everyone you encounter, if you will let it function in yourself. This is one of the crucial identifying characteristics of the Christ, the capacity for compassion, to feel as the others feel, to see as the others see, to share, ironically, in a common humanity. Christ sees and understands our fearful hearts, our conflicts, consuming passions, false hopes and aims. Christ also shares our dreams and joys, our laughter and play, our communion with one another and all creation. Compassion offers a uniting vision of what the world might yet be.

Isaiah’s vision is somewhat different but perhaps still related. You may also remember from last week that I began my sermon with several “texts of terror” – Joshua’s instruction to obliterate the seven tribes that occupied Canaan and a couple of the more violent passages from the Psalms. These verses from the second chapter of Isaiah come as a kind of oasis in the grim landscape of destruction promised for a disobedient, unfaithful people. Most of the first chapter of Isaiah and much of what follows today’s text is a prophecy of doom, related to all those empires that have and will conquer Israel and Judah. “Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and calling of convocation—I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:10-15).

Not exactly an encouraging word, is it? But here is the hope in these first verses of chapter 2. Walter Brueggemann points out a rhythm to Isaiah. He says, “For all its harshness, the tradition of Isaiah characteristically moves to hope” (Walter Brueggemann, Westminster Bible Companion, Isaiah 1-39, p. 24). He affirms that “There is hope, but it is deeply postsuffering hope. Yahweh’s wrath is deep and serious and will be outlasted only by Yahweh’s resolve to bring Jerusalem to its true and proper function as a place of justice. The poet looks historical threat full in the face but holds out for the holy purpose of Jerusalem…” (op. cit., p. 22). The day will come when the nations will stream to God’s holy mountain, seeking instruction in peace and justice: “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Hope of the world, God’s gift from highest heaven,
bringing to hungry souls the bread of life:
still let your Spirit unto us be given
to heal earth’s wounds and end our bitter strife.

I don’t mean to be a wet blanket on the glitter of the holiday season. There is much to celebrate and much for which we can be grateful. Still, even in a time of celebration, it is important to remember that there is much to concern us in the world around us and in our own lives. There is still trouble all over this world and parties and shopping and even celebratory worship services will not make it less so. Maybe in this season we can celebrate and be grateful for the Hope of the World. Maybe we can be touched by the Christ of great compassion. Maybe we can share the hopes and fears, the joys and concerns of all those we encounter. Maybe we can learn to live in harmony with one another as one family of faith. Maybe we can beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. Maybe can pledge ourselves not to learn war anymore. Maybe we can heal the earth’s wounds and end all bitter strife.

Hope of the world, who by your cross did save us
from death and dark despair, from sin and guilt:
we render back the love your mercy gave us;
take now our lives and use them as you will.  Amen.

 

This Week at First Baptist (11/19)

  • CalendarThursday, November 20, 2014, 10:00 am: Women’s Brunch at Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join
  • Thursday, November 20, 7:30 pm: Church Choir in the Parlor. Come and lift your voice in song. All are welcome.
  • Friday, November 21, 2014, 6:00 pm: Gratitude Potluck for folk of all ages in the Fellowship Hall. Join us for an intergenerational potluck dinner and celebration of all for which we have to be grateful. Bring a dish to share. You may also bring turkeys and canned food for Ecumenical Hunger Program that evening. Invite a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join us in this time of celebration! 
  • Sunday, November 23, 2014: Stewardship Sunday
    10:00 AM Worship and Sunday School:
    “Stories That Shape Us” Pastor Rick preaching. You encouraged to bring your completed pledge form for the 2015 budget.
    11:30 AM: Hanging of the Greens We will decorate the church for the Advent to Epiphany season. There will be activities for all ages. Coffee, juice, fruit, doughnuts for extra enticement. Help make our Advent to Epiphany Worship a warm and colorful reality.
  • Monday, November 24, 2014: Deadline for December Spire
  • Tuesday, November 25, 2014: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos at Janet Maxwell’s apartment. The address is 373 Pine Lane, #2106, Los Altos. Let Pastor Rick know if you need a ride.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 7:30 pm: Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 4111 Alma Street, Palo Alto. “Sharing the Land: with Compassion and without Fear.” An offering will be taken for Community Legal Services and Doctors without Borders. Non-perishable food items for local food closets are also welcome.
  • THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27 AND 28, Thanksgiving Holiday, church office closed.
  • FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT, NOVEMBER 30, 10:00 AM, Worship and Sunday School: “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Promised Land, Promised Time” Pastor Rick preaching.  11:30 AM, Adult Spiritual Formation, Be Born in Us Today, a three 3 week series of Advent reflection based on a verse from Phillips Brooks’s carol, Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

This Week at First Baptist (11/12)

  • CalendarThursday, November 13, 2014, 5:00 pm: Church Council in the Parlor
  • Thursday, November 13, 7:30 pm: Church Choir in the Parlor. Come and lift your voice in song. All are welcome.
  • Friday, November 14, 2014, 10:00 am: Senior Chat- Mental Illness in Our Midst. Fireside Room of Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive
  • Sunday, November 16, 2014
    10:00 AM Worship and Sunday School:
    Alive in Creation: From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM: Adult Spiritual Formation:
    Part 3 of a 3 week series on Dan Buttry’s Blessed are the Peacemakers
  • Tuesday, November 18, 2014: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos at Janet Maxwell’s apartment. The address is 373 Pine Lane, #2106, Los Altos. Let Pastor Rick know if you need a ride.
  • Wednesday, November 19, 2014, noon: Baptists Lunching Together at Grand Lake Gardens, Oakland. This month’s program will feature Evelyn Hanneman, BPFNA Operations Coordinator, speaking on Burma and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. Lunch is $8.00. Please call Joan Thatcher at 510-350-7008 for reservations. Let Pastor Rick know if you would like a ride.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014: Women’s Brunch
  • Friday, November 21, 2014: Gratitude Potluck
  • Sunday, November 23, 2014: Hanging of the Greens
  • Monday, November 24, 2014: Deadline for December Spire
  • Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 7:30 pm: Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 4111 Alma Street, Palo Alto

Happy Thanksgiving!

Harvest tableJust a brief note to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving,   Also, thanks to everyone who helped with last night’s moving Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.  People of all faiths from Palo Alto participated, iSing Girl Choir made its official debut (beautiful) and we raised over $700 for EHP and typhoon relief to our sister city, Palo, in the Philippines.

You’ll see elsewhere the information for services for Patrice Heath.  She will be greatly missed by Richard, her family and friends and, of course, our congregation.  To accommodate attendance at the Funeral Mass, please note that we’ve moved the “Hanging of the Greens” to 9:00 AM on Saturday.  Please come help decorate the church we will have coffee and refreshments as we make our house ready for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.  Then return on Sunday at 10:00 AM for the first of what promises to be a lovely sequence of Advent services.  We’ll spend some time om Adult Spiritual Formation considering seasonal writings from the great Christian contemplative theologian, Howard Thurman.  Bring someone along to share the day.

May God’s new thing flourish within us and among us.

Pastor Rick

This Week at First Baptist

CalendarTHIS WEEK AT FIRST BAPTIST

  •  CHURCH CHOIR Thursday, November 21 at 7:30 PM in the Parlor.
    All are welcome to join in song (and fun).
  • WOMENʹS BRUNCH will be Thursday, November 21 (not 28) at 10 AM at Hobee’s Restaurant, 4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited. Please join us.
  • GRATITUDE POTLUCK, Friday November 22 at 6:00 PM for folk of all ages in the Fellowship Hall. Join us for an intergenerational potluck dinner and celebration of all for which we have to be grateful. Bring a dish to share. You may also bring turkeys and canned food for Ecumenical Hunger Program that evening. Invite a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join us in this time of celebration!
  • “FOUND FAITHFUL, IN LITTLE, WITH MUCH, WITH ALL” – STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY, November 24, 10:00 AM. We will bring our 2013 pledges as well as our food offerings for EHP as part of a service of thanksgiving.  10:00 a.m. Worship: Made Strong & Sunday School for Children and Youth.  11:30 a.m. Adult Spiritual Formation:  Contemplation of the book, Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber, led by Pastor Tripp. Rev. Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor in Denver, CO. Her memoir is capturing the attention of many. It is a New York Times bestselling spiritual memoir. Some suggest hers is a voice for our present time. Copies are available.  (Note: the book contains adult language.)
  • BIBLE STUDY, Tuesday, November 26, 10:30 AM at the Terraces of Los Altos at Janet Maxwell’s apartment.  The address is 373 Pine Lane, #2106, Los Altos.  Let Pastor Rick know if you need transportation.
  • INTERFAITH THANKSGIVING SERVICE, Tuesday, November 26, 7:30 PM in our sanctuary. This year’s theme is “Pathways to a Grateful Heart: Inspiring Each Other to Expressions of Gratitude.”  If you can help with the reception afterward, please let Pastor Rick know.  We could use help with set up, clean up and refreshments to share.

Gratitude, stewardship, support, sustenance & compassion

Rev. Rick MixonThe seasons change. The weather changes. And we cycle around once more to a time to focus on gratitude. November brings trees changing color, cold nights, Thanksgiving and the stewardship campaign. In the time I have been your pastor, we have never made a big deal of promoting stewardship. We have not needed to. For whatever reasons, ours seems to be a congregation that understands the need to undergird our life together with financial resources.

When asked about our church, I tell people we are located in the most expensiveneighborhood in a very affluent city. Our neighbors are the Page and Jobs families. However, I am quick to offer the disclaimer that those kind of wealthy people do not make up our congregation. We are not particularly affluent. We are ordinary folk. But we are generous with what we have. We recognize that our life as a congregation depends on that generosity.

A while back we took a vote of confidence in the future of our congregation and decided to work toward renewal. There are many good and exciting things happening in our space and a significant number of those things are generating income to keep us functioning. It has been particularly exciting to watch the growth of iSing – Silicon Valley Girls Choir under our sponsorship. Other groups continue to enjoy and value our hospitality. They frequently comment on the “good vibe” that comes from sharing our space.

Our long awaited patio project is underway. The sound system upgrade is on the drawing board. We have a dedicated group of leaders and committed, creative staff, including our interns. We have hard‐working task teams, one of which is our Renewal Task Team that is focusing on our future. It is a difficult time anywhere to function as a church in ways with which we are familiar. We are challenged to find ways to be a church that responds positively to God’s call to faithful creativity. Renewal may well cost us something moving forward, at least during the time it takes to live into a new reality. We may be called on to invest in our future.

Gratitude, stewardship, support, sustenance, compassion – these are all characteristics and qualities that call on us to step up our generosity to the degree that we can. We know that some of us are simply not able to give more than we already do. For that level of commitment, we are grateful. That level of commitment enhances deeply the quality of our life together. At the same time, there may be some of us who can give more to sustain our community. As I said  last month, it simply takes all of us to be us. Our present and our future depend on us all pulling together to make this the congregation God – and we – want it to be.

You’ll see other places in the November Spire that our stewardship theme for this year is “Found Faithful – in Little, with Much, with All.” The text is 1 Corinthians 4:1‐2 in which Paul urges the church at Corinth to keep the faith in the face of many complicated challenges: “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” The “us” of Paul’s encouragement is all of us – you and me included. We are called to be and we have committed ourselves to living as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. As I mentioned a few Sunday’s ago, we have a story to tell, a witness to bear, compassion to practice, wisdom to share. It is essential that we continue to be faithful to the enterprise, even if we’re not entirely
sure of where we’re headed.

To be faithful in little, if that is what we have to offer. Remember trees grow from small seeds. To be faithful with much. Whatever our limitations, we are still blessed far beyond most folk on this planet. To be faithful with all. Trustworthy stewards make the most of everything with which they have to work. So we thank God for what we have been given, we pledge ourselves to share as generously as we possibly can and we trust that God will take our gifts and multiply them for the work of God’s realm in the ways that only God can. As God’s people we are blessed to be part of the system of support for God’s church. Let us bless as we have been blessed.

Pastor Rick