Pastor Josef Aalbue gives an understanding of the churches role within these hard economic times. That we are called to serve and join together as a community. Pastor Aalbue gives easy to understand points to make it clear for everyone to understand.
Family of Christ Lutheran Church
Pastor Josef Aalbue
Dear friends in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I write you on what might be the last day of fall. Tomorrow the arctic blast comes...and with it memories of winters past when pipes froze and power lines fell. This nice fall has lulled me into a sense of complacency. I haven't done all that I should do to winterize our home. And, time is running out.
The arctic blast of economic gloom and doom blows ever stronger. People are losing their homes. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their medical coverage. People are losing their savings. Neither the bottom nor the end is in sight. What are we to do? How are we to employ our faith in these difficult times?
I feel that, in this economic crisis, we are facing a faith issue. We say as a nation that it is `in God we trust'. But it feels that our trust over time has been placed in stuff and `security'. Our gauge of happiness and well-being has become an economic one. Our 'hungerings' and expectations are endless and bottomless. We have literally been sold a bill of goods. We were told that we could `have it all', and now that we `have it all' the bill has come due. We are beginning to pay for our excesses.
So, where does that leave us as we consider the budget for ministry for the coming year? Fearful? Careful? Indifferent? Do we hunker down and scale back ministry to a`bare-bones' budget? How do we lead responsibly in such times? Few of us have had the experience of the Great Depression. The other recessions we have experienced were not so deep or so long. We need to feel our way along. No one has the answers, but here are a few glimmerings:
1. We are not in charge. Never have been. Never will be. This is God's Family and God has promised to bless us.
2. Our command is to "Love God and Love Neighbor". That twin task depends on no external circumstance. God supplies us with all that is necessary to follow and obey.
3. The people in Our Family of Christ have been exceptionally generous...especially this past year. The contribution summary for this past year (through November) shows that we have given $204,666.80 for paying for and equipping our building for mission. It shows that we have given $20,300.61 for benevolent work. It shows that we have given $320,307.37 for the many ministries that we do here. That is $545,274.78! That is an amazing number. Through God's grace you have been so generous.
4. We have fewer pledges thus far (56 verses 60 pledges last year) but God has led us to pledge $174,816 (verses $166,712 for last year).
5. Our Great Winter Clothing Drive aided over 50 families and a plethora of agencies that received the clothes we could not give away. Our Giving Tree provided gifts for 77 children and youth. As of last night 72 turkeys have been given to fill our Christmas baskets. God is good and you have been so generous.
6. Why should next year be any different?
It is a matter of confidence. It is a matter of faith. As we look into the future, 2009 will be a critical year to love God and love neighbor. People will be asking hard questions of themselves and about the choices they have made over the past decade. We need to be here to help, support, encourage, guide, and point beyond what is seen to the reality of God's will and God's love.
I don't know the answers to budget-making in tough times. We have to be careful and responsible in our projections and in our plans...as we always should be. But we dare not retreat or doubt that God has promised to be with us...and provide for us.
My hope and prayer will be that we not focus on what we can't do, but dream together, plan together, and work together as we attempt to follow our Lord's call into the coming year. I am excited about the enormous possibilities as we let our light so shine before others that they may see our good works and give glory to God.
Pastor Josef Aalbue is pastor at Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Vancouver, WA.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.