Pastor Dave has office hours on Wednesday mornings, and is available Fridays by appointment. He preaches and presides one Sunday each month.
“but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave”
“Through our monetary giving, we can aid in building a bright future for our community. How can each of us challenge ourselves in our giving? We are invited to think about this in two ways. First, we can make a commitment meeting or exceeding our pledge from this past year for 2019. Second, we can challenge ourselves between now and December 31st to make an additional gift or gifts to the ministries of St. Paul’s. Just to dream for a moment, here at St. Paul’s we have around one hundred and twenty faithful people and families who give of their treasure to support the ministries of St. Paul’s on an ongoing basis. If each would give an additional $18 gift each week from now until December 31st in commemoration of the end of this 2018 year of ministry, we would gather an additional $28,000.00 for ministry here at St. Paul’s by the close of the calendar year. Imagine the aid that this could provide to our community as we continue to “build this foundation” for the future of together!”
This is the way I concluded my October newsletter article. With a promise of a continuing message. In a recent sermon here at St. Paul’s, I reflected on my love for this time of year. As we depart the season of “All Hallows Eve” and move into a season of “Thanksgiving,” the season of autumn continues.
I love autumn, always have, always will. Some people look forward to the summer with the sand beneath their toes and the splash of the surf. But me, I always look forward to the brilliance of the trees, and the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet. I reflect upon a memory that I have thought of recently as I wrote a sermon in my office here at St. Paul’s. As I gazed out the window and observed the cars traveling down Route 216, I was reminded of a time when I lived in a small studio-style apartment in Hanover, Maryland before I was married to Pastor Carolyn. I remember as I gazed out that window - I saw autumn reflected upon my street. Perfect rows of red trees on one side, and orange trees on the other. Planted by the creators of this apartment complex in which I was blessed to live in for that season of my life. Yet, as I gazed out on the beauty of each tree, I also watched the cars passing by on that day, the Mercedes Benz, the BMW, the new convertible, the things that represent somehow what has become important in our society. The prestige, the money, things that are tokens that demonstrate our standing in our current society. As I continued to watch the cars pass on this road, I then saw the station wagon, and then a car not unlike my own, and those also made me think. I remember as I took a break and leaned back in my chair, I once more looked out the window, and I saw the clouds hovering above the skyline of the rooftops and I saw the brilliance of God’s work next to a crystal-clear blue sky. As I continued to write at my desk with my windows open and the precious autumn air filling my lungs, I heard a conversation. I looked down and I saw both a tenant and a person who worked to maintain the apartments. They were both smiling, they were having a great time sharing in each other’s presence. One working there on site, and one carrying a satchel as if on their way to their place of work. Each a servant in their own way, but I pondered who are they serving? And this then begged me to ask the question, “Who are we all serving? Ourselves? God?” Are we relying on selfish ambitions and the desire to “be great” in the eyes of others? Do we wish glory for ourselves? Do we have a passion to be noticed, to stand-out, to have all the accolades and recognition that we “deserve?” Pastor and founder of the Methodist tradition John Wesley once wrote on this desire in his 44th sermon, entitled “Original Sin,”
“We worship ourselves when we pay that honor to ourselves which is due to God only. Therefore all pride is idolatry; it is ascribing to ourselves what is due to God alone.”
Each of us is a servant in our own way, but who are we serving? How are we serving? How are we called to serve? And I know that we hear this all the time, but ask yourself for a moment, how are you called to serve? In God’s eyes, in God’s Kingdom, the ideas of power and prestige are different altogether. For it is when we serve, others and God, that is what truly makes us great.
All are precious in God’s sight. God reaches out to all, even when we are lost in our own pride or vanity, our own selfish desire for recognition, even then, God has outstretched arms ready and waiting to welcome us back into God’s presence. Christ says, “It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave.” Servant leaders, humility, mercy, humbleness, the things that may not seem strong in our world, these are what are most precious in the eyes of God. Just as Christ came to serve - so are we called to do so. Our example is clear my friends. As we find ourselves at this time of year pondering the things to give thanks for in our lives, let us ask, “how is our serving and our giving joined together?”
Specifically, how are the ways that we are spending the money that we earn linked with our call to serve others in the name of Christ and in the light of the Gospel message. You have heard some powerful, wonderful, and thoughtful temple talks over the past few weeks before our time of worship together. Allow us all to continue to be challenged to think about our giving to the ministry here at St. Paul’s.
God bless you and your family, and prayers with you as you gather around your table for a time of Thanksgiving later this month. I am thankful for you, and happy that you call St. Paul’s your church home.