Pastoral Pondering — November 2020

“For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” ~ Luke 21:4

Do you give everything you have to the church? Most of us don’t, because at this time in history, we have to have money to pay bills, to eat, to drive cars, to go to school. There is almost nothing I can think of that is actually FREE.

We belong to a denomination (thank goodness!) that doesn’t believe in, or practice, telling individuals what they should give to the church. I don’t find that to be biblical. What I do find biblical, however, is that we are to give of our abundance, offering to God the first of our fruits, not what is leftover after we pay bills and all that other stuff. According to 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as they have decided in their heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

But why give in the first place? There is the obvious, and we just discussed these things at our annual budget meeting on October 18: because we have bills to pay, and a building and parsonage to maintain. But I want to share a little secret, when we give to the church, the first thing we should be doing, as the stewards of the money we are entrusted with, is to give it to those who need it. We are called to clothe the naked, free the prisoner, feed the hungry. As a church, our priority should be mission: based: to care for all of creation through sharing the light and love of God, offering justice for all in an unjust world.

I want to let you in on a another secret, one I have recently realized. For so long I have said we need to “find that mission we are called to.” Friends, we have already been doing it. You see, what we do well is sharing God’s love by taking care of the needs we see, as we see them, giving when the need is in front of us. Share a Meal, sandwiches, cookies for the blood bank, food, coats, backpacks, and the list goes on and on. We may not have much as far as financial resources to give, but I believe we can do more. We have one other great resource, our space—again, not a big space, but we do have some. How can we use this resource to add value to who we are and how we offer God’s love in this world? The possibilities are endless!

The reality is we still need to care for the building and pay our bills. As we move into November, we will talk more about stewardship, and share ideas of how we can be stewards for those around us. Be sure to watch for your pledge cards in the mail after November 10. Please pray about what you will give for next year, fill them out, and we will bless them during our Thanksgiving Worship on November 22.

How much do you give? That is between you and God, but maybe the scripture above will bring light to that question. David and I don’t give everything, but we do give to the church first, and we try to give a little more every year. This year, we are in a position to be able to give more than we ever have in our married lives. This is exciting for us! We will be increasing our pledge, and we challenge you to spend time in prayer with God about doing the same, if you are in the position to do so. Please remember, nobody is going to come after you if you don’t or aren’t able to fulfill your pledges. Life happens, and plans change. But when you make a pledge, you are helping us plan.

If you see a place in our community that has an immediate need, please share it with myself or a Council member. Maybe we can help! Thank you for being faithful; for donating your time, talents and treasures to this church, and to those who need it. You are truly a blessing!

~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi

Pastoral Pondering — October 2020

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. ~ Philippians 4:6

It’s too much. It’s not fair, and it’s just too much. A pandemic, with no end in sight, and more questions than answers, not to mention the division in how people feel about what is happening. Loss of jobs, loss of freedom, and loss of lives.

For the second time since the US decided to name hurricanes and tropical storms, we are naming them from letters of the Greek alphabet due to the volume of activity we are seeing.

School looks different. Do we hold school, do we hold only online? Are the numbers increasing? And now, for those of us who are part of the Davenport Community School District, we are left wondering what will happen after the removal of the Superintendent and CFO last Thursday.

Oh, and let us not forget that our country is preparing for our Presidential election, and stress around this subject is through the roof!

In his letter to the people of Philippi, Paul is telling them not to be anxious about anything. Really? Don’t worry, don’t be anxious? Paul certainly doesn’t know me very well.

But that’s just it, Paul does know. He knows that fear can take over and leave us paralyzed. He isn’t saying that if we do worry, that what we are worrying about doesn’t matter. What he is saying is that when we have anxiety, and we are anxious because of everything that is going on within and around us, we are to take it to God in prayer. God hears our prayers, each and every one of them. And when we are beyond words, we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit who will take our deep, anxious sighs, and turn them into words for God to hear.

There isn’t one of us who doesn’t need to let go of anxiety and anxious feelings, especially right now. When you lose your sense of peace, take it to God in prayer. With words, with gestures, with joy, with anger, with happiness, sadness, sorrow, or fear. Give what is hurting you over to God. Know that God hears your pleas, and is waiting to wrap you in Their arms. We are not alone in all of this. Our God is walking with us.

For that, and for so much more, I give thanks and praise, because it is too much, and it isn’t fair.

~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi

Pastoral Pondering – September 2020

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  ~   John 8:32

We—and by “we”, I mean “I” – have talked an awful lot about the trials and tribulations of 2020, and we really don’t need to rehash them. Yes, that is part of the truth, but there is another part of the truth that we tend to leave out, especially when we are feeling the fear and despair of all that has been thrown at us.

That truth is the continued abundant blessings we have been given, as a world, as a nation, as a community, as a church, and as individuals. I want to share that part of the truth with you here.

WORLD

In this time of chaos and uncertainty, besides our humanity, we now have another thing in common with every single person walking on this planet—the experience of this pandemic. Every single human has their own stories to share about their lived experience. We are not alone!

NATION

We have much to work on as a nation, and even in the difficulties and tragedies that continue to be thrown our way, we have been blessed with the opportunity to begin to make things right—to offer justice and equality in ways that we have been ignoring. The more we work toward justice and peace, the more God will bless us.

COMMUNITY

In this last storm, I watched our community gather in ways I haven’t experienced before. Again, everyone in our community was affected by this last storm in one way or another, and yet, neighbors helped neighbors, strangers prayed for each other, and a real sense of community was present, if even for a brief moment.

CHURCH

This is the most amazing! During this time of sheltering in place, we have raised enough money to replace the roof and take down the cross, to repair the hail damage on the shed and gutters; we have purchased a new sound/video system (which is just about complete!); continued to offer our pledges for the bills that our church has; held a paint party; continue to gather on ZOOM every other Wednesday evening; gather in person and on ZOOM for Bible Study; held our first ever Virtual Vacation Bible School with 3 other churches; and we endured 15 weeks away from one another—while still worshiping—thanks to technology.

INDIVIDUAL

This might be my favorite truth. We have grown, albeit with growing pains, but we have grown nonetheless. We have stretched our ideas past what we have always done, and what we have known, opening ourselves to new life. We have used the creativity that God instilled in us. While we are rebuilding life, which can be hard, we are being given the opportunity to play! Think about it, in the beginning when God created everything, do you really think God stressed and worried, and was afraid? No way! God played! God said, LIGHT! and called it GOOD! God made water, land, animals, plants, and then called them all GOOD! And then God made humans—and we are GOOD. Creation wasn’t serious work—it was play! And now we are being invited to take part in that play; to come up with new ways to be and live, and new ways to love. And, as long as we keep God at the center—all of it will be GOOD!

In this time of chaos, uncertainty, and fear, these are the truths that we tend to overlook. Opportunity and abundance. But more than that, this opportunity is offering us freedom from the bondage we once thought to be truth. We don’t have to produce, produce, produce to be successful! We have to LOVE, and be loved. That’s all. And that is the abundant truth.

 ~ Always Peace,   Pastor Heidi