Message from the Pastor

Rev. Sundar SamuelS

Dear Members and Friends,

Greetings to you and yours as we all return to our regular routines of work, school and retirement activities. In The Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11:1-13, we read about “the footsteps of the faithful.”

According to the writer of Hebrews, there are two or three things about faith that you and I ought to know. Faith is our ability to see. It is a set of eyes through which we see the world and it is a set of glasses through which we perceive the reality of the world. Faith is a way of seeing.

The writer of Hebrews writes, by faith Noah built an Ark and Abraham fathered a son. John Wesley formed a movement called Methodists, Frances Asbury came to America, graduating seniors built a chapel in the woods for worship services. So, we ask ourselves, by faith, what are we going to do for the sake of those who come behind us? For some, faith is invisible and impossible, to others it is some far-out idea and then some talk about having blind faith. The faith I have in mind for you today is not blind. I will not ask you to do something that is against your good judgement or your good reason. I believe faith is seeing fully and it is not a pipe dream. I have in mind what the writer of Hebrews said about faith centuries ago. Faith is being sure of what you hope for and being certain of what you do not see. By faith, we board a plane, drive a car, visit a doctor, come to church, start a family, and invest in the future. Our entire life is lived by faith. Faith is a set of eyes through which we see the world, but it is also something more. Faith is the courage to act on what we see. Faith is the action we take, faith is the move we make and faith is the ability to see it, but it also the courage to act upon it; faith is the determination to endure.

There are times in our lives and also in the corporate life of the church when situations come that challenge us to live by faith, to courageously act with determination and endurance in the various ministries that we see God calling us to do. The year 2018 has been a difficult year for us to meet all our financial obligations, to support all our ministries to the full extent. Many of you have been very generous in your financial support throughout the year and you have even given over-and-above your promised tithe for 2018. I am grateful to God for each one of you and thank you with a sincere heart for your generosity.

It is amazing to hear how people who attend churches view their tithes and offerings to their local churches. I recently looked at hundreds of comments on this issue on a blog. The attitudes in which people gave were easily divided into two categories which I want to share with you for your edification. The two categories are church giving and church dues. In simplest terms, church giving is an act where the member lets go of the funds with no reservations. He or she truly gives the money to God through the church. Church dues, though, have strings attached. They are not as much gifts as they are membership dues to receive certain rights and perks.

Church giving gifts are given with a heart of gratitude and never speak of the funds as “my money.” The giver has zero expectation of personal benefits from the church in exchange for the funds because the individual views the giving as part of his or her walk of discipleship with Jesus Christ. The giver gives with joy and seeks no recognition, plaques, or naming privileges for the funds. If the giver has any regrets about the funds, it is that he or she really wants to give more. The giver considers the funds as “first fruits.” They are the first amounts taken out of paychecks and other sources of income (Exodus 23: 19).

Church dues are funds viewed as membership dues with entitlement benefits and the giver loves recognition for the funds donated. The donor withholds funds when something does not go his or her way. Indeed, the person will often attempt to persuade others to do the same. Money is almost always given with expectations. It is “my money.” Funds are often given from what is left over rather than first fruits (Malachi 1: 13-14). The donor sees money as a right to determine church spending without regard for the rest of the membership. These donors love to give designated funds since they have more control over “my money.” Giving to the church is a source of pride for the donor.

I want to take this opportunity to inform you that on Sunday October 14, 2018 our stewardship campaign for 2019 will begin. I am extending an invitation to all of you to come and be part of the worship services during which time our various ministries will be highlighted in celebration of thanks to God for the promise of providing all the resources for us to faithfully carry out God’s ministries through our wonderful church.

I am also excited to report to you that beginning October 14, 2018 we are extending our weekly worship ministry to Hawthorne Ridge, a senior living center. Please come and join us if you are able at 1:00pm in the afternoon.

May God bless you and yours as you enjoy the beautiful fall season!

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Sundar