Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Investing in God's Future

In many churches, this is Stewardship Season: The time of year when members are asked to pledge what they plan to give to the church the following year.

We've been trying to call it "Pledge Season" instead, acknowledging the fact that every season is Stewardship Season! To be stewards means to take care of something that you do not own.

We consider ourselves to be stewards of God's creation, of God's people, and of everything that God has blessed us with: our bodies, our minds, our talents, our education, our families. We are also stewards of God's church. We do not own the church, we get to be part of it and "use" it for whatever we may need: spiritual nourishment, a supportive community, to learn about our faith, an opportunity to serve others, and a place where we are accepted and loved for who we really are. But, even if many of us say, lovingly and proudly, "my church...," it is not ours. It is God's. It was here long before we ever came and will be here long after we're gone. 
That's a bit of a relief: We don't have to save the church! We don't have to fix it, or make it grow. God will do all of that. 

But it's also a big responsibility: While we are here and have chosen to be part of the church, we are called to take care of it, and to represent Jesus to the wider community.  God will give us everything we need in order to do that. 

In church speak, we talk about the three "T"s: Time, Talents, and Treasure. Those are the gifts we have to share, and how we can contribute to the work of God in this world. 

How do we use our TIME to do God's work, and to love our neighbor?
How do we use our TALENTS to be followers of Jesus and help build the kind of world he envisioned?
And how do we use our TREASURE, our money, to manifest our values and beliefs? 

Yesterday we asked the worshiping community to think about this: How much of my time, talents and treasure am I willing and able to give to God. 

I invite you to do the same: Think about your "T"s and how you will use them. The world needs you. The world needs good people who will not adhere to the standards of this world (work, wealth, beauty, youth, athleticism...), but the standards of God in whose eyes every living being is beautiful, is valuable, and has a purpose and a place in God's plan. 

How much of your "T"s are you willing to give? 

May God bless each and every one of you, and your "T"s, so they may grow and bear fruit and fill the world with God's love. 

Monday, October 22, 2018


Last week I mentioned how many people are looking for a community, and a place where they can make a difference in the world.

I'm always amazed at how much good people do even in their busy lives: Young moms who work and lead Girl scout troops. Retired folks who babysit their grandchildren, volunteer at the food pantry, Senior Center, library, Historical Society and all sorts of other places! At church, too. I sometimes hesitate to invite them to church because I know they are already doing so much. Maybe they just need a day to sleep in or not have to rush to get their kids dressed and out of the house in time. And, church is so often associated with guilt: "I know I should be going to church but..." That's the last thing I want to do: Make someone feel guilty!

But then I think about what we have to offer as a church... A community. A place where you come together with people of different ages and backgrounds to pray and sing. A place where you can laugh and cry, where you can talk about your struggles and your joys. Where we learn and grow in our faith together because none of us have it all figured out. Where we are inspired to make this world a better place. And I think about times when members of the church had surgery and others did not hesitate to offer meals, rides, and other ways of lending a helping hand and showing that they care.

That's what people miss out on if they're not part of a church.

I was at a conference last weekend and heard a shocking statistic about loneliness: 25% of those surveyed have no one in their lives that they can talk to about meaningful things. Only 8% have a neighbor they can turn to in a time of need. Can you imagine? Loneliness is a sad, painful experience.

Our world is getting more and more connected on a technical and global level, and more and more isolated on an interpersonal level.

That's why I invite people to Trinity Church. We're a good place to start if you're feeling lonely, or if the people you have in your lives are not willing or able to have the kind of deep, meaningful conversations that you long for. We're a good place to talk about your faith, and your questions and your doubts. We're a good place to experience that you are not alone.

If you have found this, whether at Trinity Church or somewhere else (this blog is out there for all the world to read, after all) - please invite your co-workers, your neighbors, your or your kids' friends. It may be exactly what they are longing for, without even knowing it. It doesn't hurt to ask. If they say "no," that is their right. If they say "maybe," ask again later. If they say "yes," you may have given them the best gift they have received in a long time: a community.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Being a Christian

As I am preparing a group of people for membership here at Trinity, I'm thinking about how best to explain to them who we are and what we stand for. And I don't have ten hours! 

Last night I attended an interfaith where a brief overview of Christianity was given, from one particular denomination's perspective. There are so many theological and structural differences between the various Christian churches. It must be very confusing to people of others faiths - and to people who adhere to the Christian faith as well! 

A decline in denominational identity was mentioned: People don't care so much what particular "brand" of Christianity a local congregation belongs to. They want to be part of a community that helps them make a difference in the world. I've seen and heard this myself.

While some may find this trend regrettable I celebrate it. We don't need Baptists or Congregationalists or Presbyterians. We need disciples of Jesus Christ! How and where they affiliate should be an individual's free choice.

So that's one thing that we as Trinity Church stand for: That each individual has a right to their own set of beliefs. We read the Bible, we teach what Jesus taught, and we try to live the way Jesus tells us to. But we don't make anyone go through a checklist of theological concepts and ask them to sign off on them. For example:
- the virgin birth
- the healing and feeding miracles
- the resurrection
- the Trinity

Some of these are theological constructs created by human beings to try to make sense of a mysterious God. Some are interpretations of a text that was originally written in Greek or Hebrew, in a very different cultural context. And all of them are stories told about God or Jesus by human beings

None of us know for sure. None of us believe everything that is in the Bible. I certainly don't! At least not literally. And that's okay. I can be a disciple of Jesus and interpret Biblical stories and church traditions in my own way. 
So can you. You don't need to be a Biblical scholar or theologian to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. All you need to be is yourself: a person who longs for a connection with God and with other people. A person who wants to live a deep and meaningful life. A person who wants to have a purpose and make a difference.

We, here at Trinity Church, believe Jesus is the way to that life. But we know and fully respect that there are other ways. 

If you want to know more about Jesus and how you can follow him, you are welcome with us. If you have all kinds of doubts and questions, you are welcome with us. If you've had a negative experience with church and are not sure if you even want to be part of any organized religion, you are welcome with us. 

We will not judge you. We will not tell you what to believe or what to think. We will talk to you and listen to you, we will pray with you and do hands-on ministry with you, if you so choose. 

Please contact me if you'd like to talk about about any of this, whether you are considering membership or have been a member for a long time. We are all still on a journey, and it is more rewarding and more fun if we walk it together. 

I know God has gifted you in many ways. The world needs gifted people. Be yourself (God's beloved child), and allow the world to see God through you.