Paul’s Message: Sabbath Living

SabbathWorldIt’s stewardship time?! Nooooooooo! And that’s just the reaction of the pastor. Yes, May will be stewardship time in the life of FPC. Yes, a significant part of the discussion will involve money (cue another Noooooo!)

Ok, now that we have all of the ‘Noooooo’s’ out of the way, we can get down to business. Stewardship in the church context often means talking about money to pay the church’s bills. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Here at FPC, however, stewardship means something different. We will not be talking about the church budget. We will not be focusing on the need to pay the church’s monthly electric bill or the pastor’s salary. That’s not personal stewardship.

We at FPC focus on giving for you and not to get something from you. That’s why we don’t ask for pledges, or for how much you plan to give to the church. The specifics are between you and God. What we will be talking about is celebrating the joy of giving, and giving to nurture Sabbath life.

Sabbath life is the kind of life that God intends–individuals, communities, and creation living together in diverse and beautiful harmony. It’s what Adam and Eve experienced in the garden. It’s what Jesus made possible in the cross and resurrection and will complete when he returns. We can experience that kind of life when we live, love, and give like Jesus.

As a church body, we try to model this principle. Of all the income that we received in 2012 (including special offerings), just over 10% went directly to supporting mission and not to our operating expenses. We believe that this giving is one reason why, as a congregation, we are so blessed. We will encourage you to think about what God has blessed you with in terms of time, talents and treasure, and to ask yourself, “What is God calling me/us to give back?”

When we experience God’s grace and provision for us, our faith teaches us to respond by returning the first portion of that to God. It’s not a duty. It’s not an obligation that earns a few marks in the good column of God’s heavenly ledger. It’s a spiritual discipline that uncovers the profound truth that giving is the secret to abundant life. We were created to give, and giving empowers us to live life to its fullest.

When you give to God through this community, your giving will support the discovery of Sabbath living through our ministry. You will be supporting the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. We hope you’ll join us in this journey to discover Sabbath living, and may you have a blessed Spring.

Peace, Paul

 

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Affirmations of Faith

    On the last Sunday of October, ‘Mission Sunday,’ many of you helped us pack more than two hundred bags for a local school food distribution program.  Those bags of food went out to local schoolchildren, who live in food insecure settings, to keep their bellies full. The food we provided has the potential to ensure the schoolchildren are more successful in life and in their education.  In worship we sometimes use the phrase ‘Affirmation of Faith’ and then repeat a longstanding confession of the church, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Brief Statement of Faith. I value reciting these affirmations, because they remind us of the core values we hold as Christians. But as I was thinking about this over the last few months, I believe that such mission work to the community around us is an even deeper affirmation of our faith by acknowledging Jesus’ call upon our lives, and then living out that ministry.

    I want to share information with you this month about another ministry which I believe is an affirmation of our faith. You have heard us talk about it quite a bit but may not know the details. For years now the Deacon’s Fund at First Presbyterian Church has provided financial assistance to those in our community facing immediate financial need that impacts their ability to live a healthy and productive life.

    There are social services around town, which provide supportive and meaningful resources, but there can be qualifications and restrictions associated with the access of those services. The Deacon’s Fund strives to offer judgment-free ministry to those who are facing financial challenges in life and helps people access these services.

    Barbara Troisi and Beth MacDonald are currently our two Deacon’s Fund facilitators.  They spend time each month looking at applications for assistance, and then distribute funds, which may involve multiple phone calls, trips to the store for Smith’s gift cards (useful for food or fuel), and various other tasks.  Prior to Beth and Barbara, other wonderful people contributed their efforts to this ministry: Linda Roberts, Tina Purintun, Kelly Rhea, Terry Brennand, Barbara Lutz (I am sure I have left a name or two off, please forgive me). Pam Riffe also makes contributions and supports people applying for these funds in her role as our office administrator.

    These are some of the ‘saints’ of the church. These are angels among us – superheroes, one might say – who make time in their lives to help others.

    The Deacon’s Fund recently received a large contribution from a couple in our community.  They are not part of our church, but they learned of our efforts to help local people through some friends who are church members.  They made this contribution to help those who are struggling to find sustainable and affordable housing. They wanted to make a significant contribution to help with housing issues and knew that First Presbyterian Church would be a wonderful avenue for those efforts. I am thankful for everyone who makes contributions to the Deacon’s Fund, small or large (most offerings to this ministry come in $10, $20, or $100 increments). Over the decades these dollars have helped hundreds of people in our community in moments of great need. This is truly part of the mission of the church, and one of the callings Jesus has placed upon us.

    Beth MacDonald is transitioning out of her role as a Deacon’s Fund facilitator at the end of the year (she will be plenty busy helping to organize and lead the Westminster Bell Choir). Thank you, Beth, for your efforts. This means we are looking for a new Deacon’s Fund coordinator to work alongside Barbara Troisi. If any of you would like to help, please let me know. If you have questions about this ministry, please talk to Beth, Barbara, or me. Beth has set up a nice spreadsheet to help keep track of funds received and funds dispersed. You don’t need to be a financial expert or math whiz to fill this role, only to have a caring heart.

    The ministry efforts of Mission Sunday and through the Deacon’s Fund are two of the wonderful aspects of First Presbyterian Church. Our calling as a faith community is certainly to worship and praise the Lord, but also to share the good news and make helpful, life-affirming contributions to the community and world around us. I pray that our ministry together continues to be vigorous.

    May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all,

    Pastor Derek

  • Pages