Thriving as a Community of Faith
Over the last few weeks, we have been reading some of Paul's advice on godly living from his first letter to Timothy. As I reflected on how God wants us to thrive in our individual lives of faith, I have considered how God wants us to thrive also as a community of faith. In many ways we do. When 200 kids and 140 adults gather for a Spirit-filled week at Vacation Bible School, we thrive. In the food, faith, and friends of Wednesday at the Port, we thrive. At our park that reflects the beauty of God's creation for our village, we thrive. In our partnership with South River School, we thrive. Alongside our youth who are passionate about being a blessing to others every day, we thrive! Through the prayer shawls that we bless for those in their time of need, we thrive. In our worship filled with powerful music and inspired by the beauty of our windows, we thrive.
Yet I wonder if we are doing all the good that God has called us to do. Are we truly thriving in our ministries as God intends for us to? What if we sent a missionary out into the world to meet people where they are and share the love of Jesus with them? What if we worked to provide clean drinking water and adequate healthcare to a village where our brothers and sisters are suffering? What if provided a scholarship to a student who needed it to get the education to follow God's call in their lives? What if we sent relief workers to work with churches in Haiti to meet the suffering and needs of a people reeling from a disastrous hurricane? Perhaps these seem too huge for us to do and too big for us to consider, but this is the good that God does through The United Methodist Church with local congregations working to do larger things than they could do on their own. Together with thousands of other congregations, we can make a difference in the world for Christ - but right now we are not making the impact that we could!
We are doing incredible good in our local community, but we lack the financial resources to fully support the work of the larger church in the world. Our conference expects us to pay a certain amount to support this work each year - what we call apportionments. Currently, we are on pace to pay just under half of what we are called to do this year. That means God's work is being left undone in the world. In addition, we have building issues here that we need to address and ministries that we feel called to grow. All this work, all this good that God is calling us to, requires more money to be given.
I have spent days and some sleepless nights worrying, thinking, and praying over this. What can we do with our ministries, our staff, our fundraising, and our priorities to make ends meet and still do good in the world. I have pored over the budget and what I find is that our finance committee has given us a faithful budget and our leaders are being fantastic stewards of our resources to do great ministry with limited resources. I have even wondered if God is calling us to do less good that is more in keeping with our current level of giving.
The only answer I get is that God is calling us to do more good rather than less! In fact, I feel it deep down in my soul that God is really to do a new and amazing thing with and through us, if only we were ready. If this is true, then there really is only one option left to us: we all need to commit to giving more if we want to be faithful in doing the good we are called to. Fortunately, because our village is large, it is not an insurmountable task with which we are faced. If each family committed to giving an average of $25 more per month, we would have enough to fund and and even our ministries.
So I ask three things of you: 1) We need to commit to supporting the good work God has called us to - whether with an extra 5, 25, or 50 dollars per month according to what we can do. 2) We need to prayerfully consider our giving for next year. Pledge forms are available at the church and online and need to be returned by October 23. 3) We need to join in praying for God to reveal the good work we need to do, especially the new good we have never even dreamt of before.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Thrive: Growing in Godly Living and Giving
Sunday's Sermon Snippet: What We Save For (1 Timothy 6:18-19)
Paul concludes his first letter to Timothy with a series of short commands for him to pass along to the faithful. These commands are about how those who follow God can thrive in the faith and take hold of true life. First, do good. While this may seem obvious (and perhaps even easy) to those of us who wish to follow Jesus, this is actually a daily challenge when we remember the charge from John Wesley and our Methodist ancestors: Do all the good you can by all the means you can in all the ways you can in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can as along as ever you can. To do good is a constant challenge and a calling in which we can always continue to grow. Second, be rich in good things. Just as with wealth, to be rich means to have an overwhelming amount. To be rich in good things means that each good we do is barely noticed because it is the whole of what we do that is seen and is a marvel. Third, be generous. Generosity means going above and beyond the minimum. We are called to do more good than what is required for us to feel good about ourselves or to win the admiration of others. Being generous means we do good because that is who we are through the power of God's Spirit at work within us. Fourth, share with others. Because we know that doing good requires some amount of sacrifice - money, time, energy, status, safety - sometimes we think that doing good means giving to others so that they now have what we no longer have. It is important to note, however, that Paul uses the word share rather than give. When we share what we have, we may no longer have it to ourselves but the blessing of it grows. To share with others means that God's blessings in all our lives is increased. For Paul, following these commands allows us to save up treasure as a foundation for our future. While this certainly applies to our ultimate future with God in heaven, it also speaks to our lives now. When we do good and build up the village of folks around us, we create new and stronger relationships with God and one another - a good foundation for the future. With that foundation, our lives and transformed and we begin to not just get by and survive but to thrive in our lives. As Paul says, we are able to take hold of what is truly life - being one with God and each other!
O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Singing praise to God is one of the most important ways that we worship, and music has a way of lifting up our souls and shaping our faith like few other things can. Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the role of music in our lives of faith with special music and a hymn sing!
Responding to Hurricane Matthew
Our United Methodist Committee on Relief is already on the ground responding to the great needs caused by Hurricane Matthew both in Haiti and here in the United States. 100% of contributions to UMCOR go to relief work (UMCOR's administrative costs are funded separately so that donations can have the greatest impact for the need to which they were given). You can donate to the cause by placing a check in the offering plate made out to PRUMC with Hurricane Relief in the memo line or by donating online (online contributions can be designated for either International or US Relief).
Living in Community
Throughout the month, bring your food items for the Food Pantry to our Harvest Table set up in the vestibule. Your contribution helps to feed hungry families in our community.
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, October 11
7 pm - Administrative Council
Wednesday, October 12
9:30 - 2:00 - Office Hours
6:00 pm - Wednesday at the Port
Menu includes barbecue chicken and sweet potatoes!
7:30 - Choir Practice
Saturday, October 15
1:00 pm - Chili Cookoff and Silent Auction
Sunday, October 16
9:30 am - Worship - "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing"
Music Ministry Sunday
11:00 am - Sunday School
Charge Conference, October 23, 6 pm
Fill the Field (Homelessness Awareness Youth Event) - November 5
Operation Christmas Child Packing Party - November 6
Chick-fil-A Spirit Week - November 7-11
MORE Worship led by PRUMC Youth - November 13
Drive-thru Nativity - December 9 & 10
Christmas Musical Program - December 18
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!