First Notes – November 2017

Rev. Hoppert is on Sabbatical. Our guest blogger is Dale Miller, Lay Minister…..

Dear Friends,

As we turn our calendars and autumn winds toward winter, the month of November promises to be a busy and important one.  It will be a month filled with meaningful worship opportunities and important decisions for this congregation.

On November 2nd, the Consistory will host another in a series of Membership Gatherings designed to facilitate ongoing conversations about timely and important topics in the life of our church.

Sunday, November 5th is All Saints’ Sunday.  During worship we will pause and remember all of our members who entered the church triumphant in the past year.  Memorial gifts will be acknowledged and dedicated, as well.

Stewardship Sunday falls on November 12th.  This is a time of discernment and commitment crucial to our ministries and to the personal faith development of our members.

Before you know it Thanksgiving will be here.  As is our tradition, we will celebrate and worship on Thanksgiving Eve with our sisters and brothers at First Congregational UCC.  We will also have the opportunity to meet their newly ordained and installed pastor, Rev. Kristal Klemme.

By months end, we will close out the liturgical year and begin preparation for the Advent season, which commences Sunday, December 3rd.

Add in all the regular monthly activities and we have ourselves a full calendar.  There is, however, one more occasion to consider.

If you have been following the weekly financial updates in the bulletin on Sundays, you are aware of the substantial shortfall in our giving, relative to our 2017 budget.  Such a serious shortfall impacts the ministries of the church in a very negative manner and certainly inhibits any hopes for meaningful change or growth.

In order to reduce this deficit to a more manageable level, church leadership has designated November 19th as Festival Sunday.  As you know from past experience, on Festival Sunday (and Saturday), members are asked to faithfully and prayerfully give twice their regular offering.

Without question, joyful giving and extravagant generosity are hallmarks of a vibrant, faithful and forward-looking congregation.  You have heard my strong convictions on this subject on numerous occasions.

This message is an important one, strong and true, but I’m afraid that I have been an ineffective messenger.  So, I will not subject you to another of my narratives on this matter.  What I will do, and what I probably should have done long ago, is step back and let God step in.

Humbly and faithfully, I urge each of us, over the next weeks, to spend time in prayer to discern God’s call on our lives and what or who it is we worship.

By the way, we call it Festival Sunday as homage to our ancestors in faith, the Israelites.  Shortly after the Ten Commandments, God instituted three Great Feasts to be celebrated by the Children of Abraham.  One of the feasts was named The Festival of First Fruits, during which the first and the best of the spring wheat harvest was brought as an offering to God.  It was a celebration of God’s provision, a joyful acknowledgment that they belonged to God.  It was faith and trust and gratitude lived out.

May it be so for us.

Faithfully,

Dale Miller