Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in
the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the
more as you see the Day approaching. ~Hebrews
In these, my first
“notes” back from my Sabbatical, I want to thank, again, all the good
folks here at Faith who understood my reasons why…and supported my
time away. It was a great blessing to me!
In many ways, it is good segue to the passage above.
This passage speaks about the import of the weekly “Sabbath.”
That is to say, it speaks about the necessity to set aside
time, every week, for the worship of God and to receive “the Sabbath
rest.” To be sure, I was able to do
that, from the other side, in the months that I was gone.
It was great to experience how other Christians worship.
I also heard some good and not so good sermons.
When I came back, I was reminded, so
poignantly, about the import of this passage. As
the President of our congregation shared with us in April, in the
first quarter of the year, our giving was down about 9%.
To be sure, so often ones giving is in direct portion to their
worship attendance. It too has been down.
There is no other way to put it. This is and
has been a tremendous disappointment and cause for great concern.
At the center of our Christian life is our
need for communal worship. Some people often say,
“I can worship God” at home…or on vacation…or when I am in nature…or
wherever.” I have heard this from people many
times. To be sure, this is true.
However it is a complete misunderstanding or convolution of what it
means to be a Christian and what true worship is.
The Bible passage above is tremendously clear about this.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as is the habit of some.”
You see, our Christian life and faith are
not lived in a vacuum. In the waters of our baptism
we were converted, not only to Christ, but also into a community of
believers. The New Testament calls this community
We need the Churches fellowship.
We need, most of all, Word and Sacrament ministry which has
been given as the means of God’s real presence to us and among us, in
the context of Church. And, to be more specific,
worship! In fact, God has given us a commandment
that deals with this very issue. It is the third
commandment. “Remember the Sabbath Day.”
He gives this commandment, not for His sake, but for ours.
He knows what we need. We need the
absolution given us to every week through the proclamation of His Word
and the administration of the Eucharist. We need time for prayer; for
praise; for the filling up of our soul! All these
important and wonderful things God provides for us, through the
I truly pray that the Holy Spirit will empower
and enable us to “turn the tide,” as it were.
Toward that end, like our President, Don, encouraged, I am asking that
you prayerfully consider submitting a one time financial gift to help
offset our deficit. As we celebrate fifty years of
God’s grace here at Faith (more information on this will be coming),
rendering a gift that is divisible by fifty would be wonderful. You
are invited to simply ear-mark your money/check.
You can send it in the mail, put in the offering plate or bring
it to the office.
Now, more than the sacrificial giving of your
money, I encourage the sacrificial giving of your time.
As we move into the Spring and Summer months, strive to remain
faithful to your worship attendance. If you know
that you are going to be gone on a particular weekend, remember that
Word and Sacrament ministry are also offered every Wednesday night!
God patiently waits for you to reconnect with Him every week –
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall!