Choosing the Life That is Truly Life
November 24 – Choosing Gratitude
…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.
12I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:11-13
Is the glass half-empty? Or is the glass half-full?
The answer is, of course, it is both. The amount is the same. The difference between the two lies in the words we use to describe the same reality. The difference lies in the story we tell ourselves. Are we defined by fear and scarcity? Or, are we defined by the abundance of a good and gracious God? Gratitude is a way of seeing.
Christian stewardship is rooted in gratitude.
Gratitude may arise spontaneously in response to an unexpected gift. A beautiful vista may evoke an unprompted prayer of thanks to the Creator. Gratitude can also be a spiritual practice, a conscious choice to count one’s blessings, an intentional decision to give thanks for God’s gift of life.
People who practice gratitude are not immune from sorrow or misfortune. They suffer setbacks and disappointments like everyone else. Grateful individuals, however, do not let sorrow or misfortune define them. Even in the midst of difficulties they are able to see and appreciate small moments of goodness and beauty.
Gratitude is the key to contentment. In his letter to the Philippians Paul describes contentment as having learned the “secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.” A grateful heart recognizes that all of life is a gift and focuses on what is right rather than on what is wrong. Paradoxically, this posture of openness creates a receptivity to goodness that allows blessing to flow freely.
Gratitude is also the key to generosity. All too often, anxiety and the fear of not having enough, keep us from the joy of generosity. The grateful individual is defined, not by scarcity, but by the abundance of a good and gracious God. No longer defined by fear, they are able to freely receive and freely give.
Let us chose the life that is truly life. Let us choose gratitude.
Blessings, Pastor Kleiber
The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. Those who learned this knows what it means to live. They have penetrated the whole mystery of life, giving thanks for everything. — Albert Schweitzer
Christ the King Sunday
November 24, 2019
They shall take from it a handful of the choice flour and oil of the grain-offering, with all the frankincense that is on the offering, and they shall turn its memorial portion into smoke on the altar as a pleasing odor to the Lord. — Leviticus 6:15
We celebrate Christ the King Sunday with incense and a Festival Choral Eucharist. Please join us in worship on this final Sunday in the church year as we dedicate our financial commitments to God.
On the day we celebrate the reign of Christ it is appropriate that we consecrate the gift of our financial commitment for the coming year. You should have received Pledge Card in the mail last week. If you did not receive one, or if you forgot to bring it with you today, additional cards are available in the narthex. We invite you to prayerfully consider what your offering to God through our church will be in the coming year. Then fill out a card and bring it forward at the conclusion of the worship service.
Where Does Your Offering Go?
ELCA members recently gave $1.7 billion in unrestricted offerings to support God’s mission and ministry. Each year, ELCA congregations pledge to send a portion of the offerings they receive to fund ELCA ministries in their synods and beyond. In the ELCA, we call these funds Mission Support. Where does your offering go? This video shares how your Mission Support impacts life-changing work in our communities and around the world.
November 10 – Choosing Grace
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it a thousand times. — Martin Luther
Christian stewardship is rooted in grace. Last All Saints Sunday we gave thanks for those saints whose confidence in the grace of God continues to inspire and encourage us.
Christian stewardship is rooted in grace. Our identity as God’s children has nothing to do with what we do or what we possess. As Luther would say, God has chosen us and provided for us “out of pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness” in us. We don’t need to prove our worthiness to God. We are loved just exactly as we are. That is grace.
We often forget that grace. We behave as though our value and worth is based on what we do or possess. This makes it difficult for us to live freely and joyously. We grasp at success. We fear letting go of our possessions. The opinion of others becomes the measure of our worthiness rather than our intrinsic beauty as the people of God. We are driven by fear rathr than faith.
As we continue our reflections on Christian stewardship during the month of November let us be mindful that it starts with grace. God’s grace surrounds us. We can choose to ignore this grace and live driven by fear and scarcity. Or, we can choose to live into this grace and experience the joy and abundance that comes from God. We can freely receive and we can freely give.
Let us choose the life that is truly life. Let us choose grace.
Stories of Faith in Action
Have you ever wondered about how other congregations in our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are engaging in mission? Here is a link to a video about St. John’s Lutheran Church in Jacksville, FL, and its work celebrating LGBTQIA+ people and their families.