We are finally at the end! After all this time, we have finally arrived—the end of Stewardship season! What, did you think I was talking about something else?
This week marks our final Sunday of stewardship and gratitude. If you have been paying even marginal attention, and haven’t been distracted by something else (what else has there been to pay attention to?), you know that our theme this year was “Growing Our Gratitude.” We have spent a lot of time talking about what we are grateful for, and how that translates into generosity and how we give back. We have heard wonderful reflections from some of our Covenant Kin, I found myself emotionally moved on more than one occasion! We have ended each sermon with a prompt to reflect on our own gratitude, and have offered that gratitude up to the world on our Gratitude board. By the way, you won’t believe how many non-church folks have come in the building in the past couple of weeks and commented on being greeted by gratitude.
The fact is, we have spent all of this time on gratitude because it is important for our very souls. Gratefulness has a huge impact on our health, on our emotions, on our ability to cope, and hopefully that in turn has a huge impact on the broken world around us. If we are doing it right, gratefulness transforms us, and we are then prepared to transform the world as Christ’s disciples. This Sunday, we will talk about what that looks like in terms of how we behave as citizens.
Gratitude is also the source of generosity. When we realize how much we have to be grateful for, we can’t help but respond by offering up something for which someone else can be grateful. This is contagious, and once we start that cycle it only grows within us as well. We give because we are thankful, and the experience makes us more grateful, and in turn, happier to give. That is part of the reason why my family’s pledge to the church has continued to grow over the years. I think about where I was 5 years ago, unsure of where we would land, unsure of where we would live, unsure about our future. Today, we are home. We have been home with you since then, and you continue to give us so much for which to be thankful. My little girl calls so many of you Aunt or Uncle, and sees so many of you as surrogate grandparents. I watch my son run around your feet clutching donuts on Sunday while you look on and smile. I feel a constant warmth radiating from this, our Covenant family. We share meals together. We share joy and sorrow together. We share debate and learning together. We share REAL community together. We share in worshipping God together. I give because I am grateful to you.
Last Sunday, you may have noticed that I ran out the back of the sanctuary immediately after presiding at communion. My daughter had fallen and cut her head open. I was terrified. The response was overwhelming from you. We had a gaggle of nurses surround Grace to make sure she was okay. I have had so many texts, and calls, and drop ins in the office. I am blown away by how much you care for me and my family. I hope you know the feeling is mutual, and that not every church has that kind of beloved community going for it! By the way, for the few of you that don’t already know, Gracie is fine.
What a thing to be part of a church family like that! Thank you!
Finally, know this—that kind of community is not normal. Not even in churches is that normal. It takes hard work. It takes going out of your way to care for others. It takes a generosity of spirit that is hard to find elsewhere in this world. Be grateful for that! And more importantly, share it. Especially in the wake of one of the most divisive elections in history, this world could use the hope that is born out of gratitude, now more than ever! People need what you have. Your time. Your talent. Your treasure. But maybe even most of all, your thankfulness and your beloved community. That is how we do stewardship. We let our gratitude to God lead to overwhelming, overflowing, loving, community. Thank You!