“The Father who dwells in me is doing His works.” The religious leaders of Jesus’ time would not recognize God working through Jesus. With all the miracles and cures, they refused to see the hand of God in what Jesus was doing. They were indeed stiff necked and hard-hearted people. To think of Jesus as the Son of God was impossible for them. Jesus pointed to the good works He had done, but they refused to see.
The early church was not without their problems. Just a couple of weeks ago we read that everyone was living and working together in harmony. Today we read that the Gentile women were not receiving their fair share of food. I find it interesting how the Apostles addressed this issue. They appointed seven men to administer the distribution of food. These seven men were all Gentile.
They all have Greek names. These seven men became our first deacons. The hand of God directed what was needed for the church at that time. We see the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, and kindness are a few. We should also recognize that the Apostles came together in something like a synodal process. They listened to the problem and then developed a plan of action as to how to move forward.
It is important for us to see the good works God is doing in our churches today. It is evident that we are experiencing the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We have completed our budget for the next fiscal year beginning July. All our churches are in a stable financial position. I see this as a fruit of the Spirit.
The number of registered families continues to slightly decline. But the number of young families with children continues to rise. This too is a fruit of the Spirit. We can see the Spirit working in the cluster events where we bring families together to worship the Lord. We see the Spirit alive in our religious ed programs.
Our school is bringing alive the faith to old and young alike. However, we need to be like the Apostles and recognize the challenges in our world today. We see inflation and rising costs with nearly everything. Every year we talk about time, talent, and treasure. It is time then to look from a Spirit point of view of who you are with your time, talent, and treasure.
Do you see the fruits of Spirit in the time you offer to the Lord? It is important to see how you spend your time each day. In your many activities, do they bring you joy and peace? Everyone has many talents. As you reflect upon what you do every day do you see God working through you to bring happiness and love to those around you? And how is the Spirit guiding you with your treasures? Do you find your treasure producing goodness and kindness through your generosity?
As I mentioned, all of our churches are financially stable in a world that is struggling. We need to be good stewards and see what is happening in the world and then be guided by the Spirit plan. I have discovered over the years a barometer that helps in determining how to plan your financial giving. It is the price of a cup of coffee.
Perhaps you remember when coffee was 25 cents. Churches would ask that you increase your weekly contribution to the price of a cup of coffee. That example works today but based on the cup of coffee you purchased. If your coffee is $1 then I ask you to increase your contribution each week by $1. If your coffee is $5 then I ask you to increase your weekly contribution by $5.
Many of you have gone to an automatic donation system. The best way to do this is through your bank. This has really stabilized the finances for the church. It allows us to better plan. In doing this though people have said they lost the opportunity to donate Christmas and Easter flowers or donate for Memorial Day or other holidays. We are developing a generic envelope that we will make available one or two weeks before the holiday.
We ask you to continue to sign up for the automatic deposit program. There is a tab on our website to do that.
One last thought, have you participated in the Diocesan Service Appeal? We are given a goal to achieve. If we don’t, the church must pay the balance. Yes, the cost of items continues to increase. Your time becomes constrained. But you will always have the church to come home to find peace, quiet, and God’s love.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen