From the Newsletter: “Giving and the Church”

giving tree

Dear Friends of Second Church,

This Sunday, along with inspiring choral support from our Youth Choir, we will mark the beginning of Stewardship Season.

Beginning with Stewardship Chair, Rick R., and over the next several weeks, we will hear brief testimonies from many different members about what makes Second Church an important part of their lives.

So often, it’s important for a combination of reasons. A welcome sense of peace as the light from the stained glass window shines on the Communion Table. A sermon we’ve never forgotten. The greeting of good friends. The memory of working side by side in mission, near or far. Seeing our children go from Cherub to Youth Choir, then breakout stardom in the Christmas Pageant…then, before you know it, walking down the aisle to start a family of her own. Gratitude for the care of those who dropped off casseroles during a difficult time.

I am always inspired by stories like those, and they make me mindful of my own gratitude, not only for Second Church, but for all the churches that have been my home over the years.

That said, to me, they are much more than just “nice stories about church.” Really, they’re a reminder of what I want the whole world to be like.

Busy as we are, imperfect as we are, we find it harder than ever to practice the ways of caring that we know are best.

By comparison to many of you, or even to my wife, I am blessed to be hyper-local—living literally a few steps away from the office, a pleasant downhill walk to our local school, with a sense of rhythm to my week and to the year, in general.

Living in a connected way should be easier for me than just about anyone, but sometimes, even I feel jangled, confused about which calendar I wrote something down on that I’ve now forgotten, or unsure if I am hungry because I’m nervous about something or because I didn’t eat lunch. There are too many birthday phone calls for my friends and family that even I never quite get to, class reunions where the old roommates call to wonder why I didn’t come, neighbors I meant to get to know but never did quite break the ice with. There are so many years when I start the Christmas season, intending to be more deliberate about making time for prayer and quiet…only to realize on Christmas Day that, once again, I didn’t quite manage it.

Left to our own devices, we struggle to be the kind of neighbors, spouses, and friends we always expected we would be. The world isn’t so easily accommodated.

That’s why the Church is so important: it’s important because, despite all that, it stands for a different, deeper, better way. It’s a place where peace is still possible, and love of neighbor remains important, and service is understood as part of the fabric of life. It’s a place where we have permission to be decidedly imperfect—not “together,” not “over it” (whatever the “it” may be), not flawless…but us as we really are. It’s a place where joys and concerns can be named side by side among us, recognizing that in the lives we lead, joy and concern are so often side by side.

I wish the whole world were already like this. Indeed, the promise of Scripture is that, one day, in the fullness of God’s time, it will be. But as we go about making it so, each in our own way, there is this foretaste of the Kingdom. There is this place to learn the different, deeper, better way God offers us.

I hope in the coming weeks, you’ll think about how God might be calling you to live more deeply into His way. I know that as we do, our community will be blessed, indeed.
See you in church,

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