I so much enjoy getting up every morning, getting my coffee, and reading the devotion for the day from our Pilgrimage With Paul devotional booklet. I gain new appreciation each day for the love and grace of God, as revealed in these devotions, and for those who share their knowledge, insight, and experiences. We are part of a truly amazing church, made that way by an amazing God and amazing people! I thank God every day for all of you!
If you do not have a copy of Pilgrimage With Paul, there are copies at the church. Or, to receive it each morning by email, click here.
One of the things that has struck me this week is the manyyears that elapsed between Paul’s conversion and what is known as his First Missionary Journey. (Acts 12:25-13:12) We’ll read about the beginning of this journey on Sunday, as well as what might have taken place leading up to it and immediately following it. We’ll see that the early church was not immune to controversy! We’ll see that we are saved, not be doing the right or expected thing, but through faith in God and the grace that God bestows (Galatians 2:15-21). But one of the things I’m thinking is that it took a lot of prayer and preparation to get Paul to that point. He was an accomplished scholar, deeply religious, before his conversion, but it still took double-digit years for him to clarify his message and to be ready to embark as the greatest missionary of Christian history!
This is a good reminder for Lent, which is a time of prayer and reflection for each of us. Are we being faithful? Are we trusting in God’s grace? Are we spending enough time in prayer to discern God’s true will for us, and then having the courage to do that will? Well, those are some of the questions that come to me in Lent.
Lent has been considered a time for giving. We’ll have opportunities to give in the coming weeks. The One Great Hour of sharing offering is received on March 6. This annual offering goes to fund the administrative costs of operating the United Methodist Committee on Relief, so that when gifts are designated for specific funds in time of crisis, 100% of those designated gifts go for direct aid in that specific crisis. And on Palm Sunday, for the first time during Lent we will have a Stop Hunger Now event, so we are receiving donations for that. More to come.
I’m not sure that all of you who read the Weekly Update and this pastoral post also read First Words. In the last First Words I wrote a bit about the gap between our goals for ministry and mission this year and our projected income. We are in strong financial condition, but we presently are short in projected income to continue to grow ministry and mission, while at the same time maintaining aging facilities, which, of course, are necessary to house the many ministries. You should be receiving a letter by mail in the next few days with more info, so please read it and prayerfully consider your present situation and your giving. Then be at peace with your decision, whatever it may be.
See you Sunday on our Pilgrimage,