Dear FBCD Family,
It was a precious weekend of honoring "all the saints" at FBCD. On Saturday, a very large congregation of friends and family came out to memorialize the life of our own Harold Zwald, beloved husband of June, our dear sister in Christ. Then on Sunday, in both services, we remembered the other thirteen saints who had gone to be with Jesus since last November. It was a good chance to be reminded that all Christian living is toward dying — that is, we live in full view of our own deaths, and in full view of the death of Jesus our Savior and Lord. To remember this periodically is good for us. It can reset us, draw us back to our core identity and purpose, the broader story in which we are living. From God we came, sustained by God we live, and to God we shall return. And so we seek to live as God's people every day.
We are thinking some right now about money and property and buildings and grounds and what all that has to do with Jesus. The Generosity Team is leading us in a pledge drive in which we are being asked explicitly to commit time, talent, and treasure for next year. On the next two Sundays, all who call FBCD home are asked to bring forward your pledge cards at designated times in each service. This is a time of (re)commitment, and it is both symbolically and practically important.
In my sermon Sunday, I spoke about the Baptist way of doing budgeting and making ends meet. We don't tax, we don't demand anything, but instead we rely on the free, goodwill offerings — I called them "investment" — of people who believe in the mission of the church and who benefit from involvement in the congregation. I called on all to make some kind of investment — no free riders, as I said — and all of us to think aggressively about our giving. I also outlined the rather stark financial demands we face, when one puts together a $1.3 million annual operating budget, $450,000 in debt due soon, and over $1 million in urgent or near-term repairs. Maybe this kind of straight talk about what your giving actually pays for can help clarify how much you feel called to give. That, at least, is my hope.
Did you know that Advent starts just after Thanksgiving? I have been savoring in advance the wonderful music that our musicians will undoubtedly be bringing, and praying over the messages that I will be preaching. (More on that very soon!) In Christian tradition, Advent marks the beginning of the church year, not the end. It seems appropriate, in this time of new beginnings at our church.
Finally, Tuesday is Election Day. I certainly hope all FBCD folk will exercise their citizenship responsibilities if you are able. It has been a bruising and in many ways dispiriting election. I am praying that the election will yield a clear winner, a gracious loser, and a turn toward national reconciliation. May it be so.
Offer the love of Christ to all you meet this week, my friends.
Link to the sermon series: What Does Success Look Like for FBCD: the Five E's, and scroll to the November 7 sermon.