Recently, the Gospel reading from Luke 16:1-13 was the appointed Gospel reading of the day. The title of the parable Jesus told is "The Parable of the Dishonest Manager". It can be confusing in places but the basic point is that whatever resources God has given to us as individuals or as a congregation is a gift, not a right. The gift is a responsibility, not an entitlement. The message is that we are to use our gifts in light of our eternal relationship with God and to not be controlled by His gift to us.
That can be a challenge for all of us. We live in a culture in which it is very easy to forget that our purpose in living as children of God is to live for something and/or Someone greater than ourselves. Sometimes our vision of God's call becomes cloudy or muddled and we need to be reminded that serving God is always about using our resources to share His love with all people.
On Sunday, October 20, everyone is invited to a luncheon in Fellowship Hall immediately following worship. During the luncheon there will be a presentation concerning ministry plans and proposed changes to the church budget for 2020 that reflect Bethesda's call to serve God in this time and in this place. The day is not a meeting to vote but a time to receive information and to have open conversation. The Annual Congregational Meeting will be on November 10.
As a congregation, along with many other congregations, we have often been more invested in trying to keep our church "going" than in making sure the Gospel reaches new people. Too often we (myself included) have spent our time in worry about our finances, not for the sake of the gospel but for the sake of maintaining the congregation we are comfortable in.
The conclusion of my sermon in September on the "Parable of the Dishonest Manager) is, once again,
"As we come together to serve God as He leads us, none of the above should hold us back from remembering that we are a forgiven people, that new opportunities are always before us. God will not measure our faithfulness by how well we have done in holding on to the way things have been, but by how we trust God for what will be." (quote from a 20th c theologian)
The theme for 2020 is "Growing the Congregation in Faith and Service". Come and be part of the adventure!
Still In One Piece,
Pastor Elaine Hower