Keep the Light Shining
November 21, 2010
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Today is a great day of celebration in our Church! It is the day on which each of us celebrates the fact that, together, we keep the light of our church shining. Today is Stewardship Sunday. It is a great day when we gather together and make our estimates of giving that will keep people blessed by the spiritual energy of this Church in the coming year. Our estimates will keep this beacon of hope glowing for the people who look to this church as the place where they are spiritually recharged. This is the day we have the chance to make a positive difference!
In the Gospels we read the story of how Pharisees went to Jesus and said, “We are Pharisees and we try to please God by keeping to the letter of the law. And there are so many! There are the 10 Commandments, the Levitical laws about what you can and cannot eat. Good master, what is the greatest of the laws?"
Jesus looked at them and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these rest all the Law and the Prophets.” That was Jesus’s summary of what we should do.
There are two laws and both begin with the words “You shall love.” It all begins with love and we are here today to celebrate our love for God, love for each other and love for our church.
As I was thinking about Stewardship Sunday I was reminded of a scene that I see every morning that I just love. As I sit at the dining room table in the lovely house that you provide for me, I look out my window at what I call “Sunrise Mountain”. The sun rises over it each morning. Through the windows I also see another wonderful sight. I have birdfeeders filled with sunflower seeds. The most wonderful variety of birds come to the feeder. A beautiful red cardinal came just at sunrise to enjoy the feeder. A remarkable variety of birds come and feed at the window all day long.
This scene at my dining room window reminds me of our church. Folks come all week long as well as Sunday after Sunday to be spiritually fed, nourished, and blessed. Then they go back into the world, recharged and encouraged. That is what our church does.
Every other day or so, the levels of seeds in the feeder get low, and I must fill up the bird feeder. That compares to what we are doing here today. We are making sure that the church that feeds so many, in so many ways, is replenished and fed and that it can move on with its work of blessing God and helping people in the coming year.
Think with me for a moment about what happens when you bless the church with your gift. We are showing love for God through our gift. Our gift is a form of prayer and faithfulness to Almighty God. We are saying that we will be solid and steady in support of the church that we love. We know that our church helps people in such remarkable ways. That is what we are doing this morning, we are loving God, and we are loving people also. We are dedicating our help to "Keep the Light Shining."
• Picture the congregation gathering on a Sunday morning, saying, “This is the day the Lord has made” and then lifting their voices mightily in a hymn of praise.
• Picture the children running forward and learning things about God and reflecting what they have learned about God.
• Picture the choir singing with joy and energy,
the Handbell Choir ringing merrily, Dr. Bell playing with amazing skill and
spirit at the console.
• Picture the children in Sunday School who are feeding on the Word of God as their dedicated teachers and Sunday school leader bless them.
• Picture the Bible studies during the week. We worship God here, and people are energized and fed.
• Picture people, not in our physical area, but somewhere in the world, reading the sermons on the Internet. Although removed by miles, they are connected through our church’s message. Members, non-members, and friends-of-friends read the sermons.
Our church worships God and our church helps people.
• Picture the scouts that come here throughout the week. They are blessed because this church is open, warm, clean, friendly and available.
• Picture all the families with children who make use of Time Out. Here they receive good, loving, responsible child care. Parents know they are leaving their children in good hands.
• Picture the people who come here in the quiet of the week or the homes the Pastor visits to listen to people’s stories, and give them a word of hope, blessing, and encouragement.
• Picture people being nourished because of our Sharing Shelf, our gifts to the food pantries, our food gifts to Crawford House. Picture people around the world being fed and taught and helped because part of each dollar is sent outside the walls of this church to United Methodist missions around the globe.
• Picture people, recently out of the hospital, having warm, lovingly prepared meals brought to their homes by members of this church, accompanied by a prayer and an encouraging word.
Picture all this and more - and know that you have made it all possible through your gifts. And your gifts in the upcoming year will enable these things, and ministries of mission around the world, to continue in the year to come.
Our church is a place where people come to be recharged and spiritually fed - and thanks to you it is possible.
The most important thing I can say today to you, dear, faithful, supportive people of God is: Thank you.
Thank you for all you have done. Thank you for all your gifts and service to this place so that the Lord’s work may be done joyfully, effectively, and solidly. Let us think of all our gifts do as we prayerfully consider what portion of our blessings God is calling us to Consecrate to His service in the year ahead.
Let us look forward
to a year of growth and progress.
Let us look forward to a year where people will be blessed in remarkable ways.
Let us look forward to a year where people will be uplifted by the teaching and the music of the church.
Let us look forward to a year where both children and adults will learn and grow.
I bless you; I encourage you; and I thank you. God bless you, everyone. Amen.
© 2010 Anthony J. Godlefski