Thursday, September 17, 2015

Week of September 13, 2015

It has begun.  You know how I know?  Sounds.  This morning, while doing some prep work for this week's sermon--the first in a series of four Stewardship Campaign sermons--I heard that familiar sound.  It's a welcome sound.  Actually, it's the sound for which my soul has searched here in this particular place.  

Musicians search for a sound, whether they know it or not.  Even if you don't consider yourself a "musician," you know music.  When you hear that new artist; that new groove; I don't know, maybe if you like Rock it's the Beatles' in the '60s, Led Zepplin in the '70s, Van Halen in the '80s, Nirvana in the '90s, etc; it carries that energy that says, "The world of music is about to change."

It's a similar thing around here, too.  This morning I heard laughter--not just planned or sophisticated giggles but, rather, hearty laughter!  It was a new sound, indeed.  Of course, we're not long-faced, ho-hum'rs around here by any stretch of the imagination.  The laughter this morning came from a different place, a healthy place.  Those gathered on the couches to engage in conversation around faithfulness encountered in brief biblical examples, like that of Queen Sheba, found occasion to open themselves in friendship and community; to feel safe enough to share, to talk, and to laugh out loud.  It was a beautiful sound, and it gives me hope.

It has begun, indeed.  We remain on the cusp, exactly where life is lived in God.  After a great lunch with Melissa at Olde Towne Hall today in Ridgeway, we stepped next door to check out some of Elizabeth Davis' amazing pottery set up in the Palmer Street Market.  I stumbled upon another piece of art that read, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room."  The truth is God meets us right where we are just like we are because of NOTHING we ever did, do, or will do.  That's Christ.  That's the gospel.  That never changes.  Therefore, what peaks my interest in hearing such a sound sought for is the hint of the possibility that we, together, are recognizing that gospel and, thus, are discovering and rediscovering joy.  Joy is that sound: the sound of vulnerability; the sound of no inhibition; the sound of people who know they are truly loved and, therefore, who risk loving others.

Guess what, I'm talking about stewardship right now.  Sure, money money money money money...right?  Sure, we're around $30K total to our name.  Sure, we're having to dip into that $30K at a rate of about $3200 per month thus far.  Okay.  We've acknowledged that, but the gospel hasn't changed.  Every soul standing on New Kirk Presbyterian ground at any one time; every soul buzzing by New Kirk Presbyterian at 60 mph; every soul yet to worship with us is LOVED COMPLETELY with NO CONDITIONS OR SMALL PRINT exactly HOW THEY ARE, WHERE THEY ARE, DOING WHAT THEY DO, THINKING WHAT THEY THINK...[insert any other exception you might think of here].  Stewardship is the joy!  Joy manifests as stewardship, even as the Holy Spirit makes good stewards of joy.  We are good stewards as we pay our bills, sure.  Yet, we are even better stewards as we laugh heartily, full of that gospel joy, while giving ourselves away.  

God, make our Stewardship Campaign more than stop-gaps and fix-its.  God, ignite the fire of joy at the gospel we see in Christ: that we are truly truly loved; and, may we ever learn to love as we are loved.  

It has begun, indeed.

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