By Pastor David
Dear St. Philippians:
My parents, and particularly my dad were shaped by the events of the great depression. That reality then had a tremendous impact on me and how I think about financial resources. I always could feel this ongoing disconnect. My parents were generous with me and my brothers as children, with the church (making an offering was presumed – though amounts were never, ever mentioned), with people in the neighborhood. But at the same time the strong influence of the Great Depression equally instilled a sense of scarcity. What if we don’t have enough? We can’t afford . . . I have joked that I didn’t want to respond to the call to be a pastor because I wanted to eat real Oreo cookies, not the Cost Cutter generic brand that we got only on occasions.
All of that is background to say I am still a work in progress and I still feel the tension of deeply desiring unbridled generosity with a nagging weight of living out a life of scarcity.
This past year, our family wanted to connect with our greater community and wanted to financially support a business that was providing tutoring services for students in our neighborhood. It was easy to make the decision to offer support – the harder one was how much? We didn’t want to redirect any of the offering we were making to St. Philip – so again how much? It turns out stretching a little bit on how much was more doable than we thought. Scarcity thinking was holding us (mostly me) back.
Here’s what I hope, for me and then maybe for us; that we can name scarcity thinking when it intrudes on our desires to practice generosity. And that we might stretch a little when we plan for sharing God’s abundance in the coming year. We plan to increase our giving to St. Philip this year while continuing to support people in our neighborhood. I look forward to hearing and sharing more stories of generosity as together we build a culture of thankfulness.
It can be hard being new in any setting, including walking into a church
where many people already know one another. Even if an invitation has been extended, there are often questions: Will I feel comfortable? What will this church be like? What is this community of faith all about? Is there a place for me to grow in faith and live the faith?
Marty, despite asking at least some of these questions did indeed show up.
All of the questions weren’t answered right away, but he did discover that St. Philip might be a place to grow in faith and live the faith. “Pastor, this congregation seems to really have a strong sense of truly living through faith. Sometimes that means with each other but a lot of times that means with people all around us. I really want to be a part of sharing God’s love, whether that’s by sharing food, or sharing care, or even trying to share that love with the kids on the school bus I drive.”
Well that sure feels like you want to Live Like That (like Christ). That first
courageous step into St. Philip has grown faith. Faith enough for Marty to
invite friends he knows to see if they might discover how to live out God’s at St. Philip too. “Pastors, I want you to meet my friends – I want them to feel the grace and love here at St. Phillip and meet some of my new friends.” St. Philip is a community that is called by God to be God’s love in the world. People want to share in the mission – so we together continue with faith to Live Like That.