I'll admit it. You have spoiled me. I am a spoiled pastor.
I don't take anyone for granted, but I do take for granted these two qualities of our congregation. Each of you and all of you together are welcoming and generous, not because it's something you have to do, but because that's who you are. I do my work as pastor each day fully confident that anyone who walks through the doors of our church will be genuinely welcomed. I also have a deep trust in the generosity at the heart of our life together. Recently, there was a pressing need within one of our families. We took an offering at the end of the worship service, and with no advance notice, the need was fully met. We have had two memorial services in recent weeks, and the renovated space which our gifts together made possible--especially the fireplace room and the nursery--beautifully enhanced our ministry of care and comfort.
You know what stewardship is, because you have practiced it so many times. You know the joy of giving, and you know how gratifying it is to support the mission and ministries of our church. Frederick Buechner has expressed our shared vocation in about as few words as possible: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." The calling we share as Beloved Community is to reach toward the world's deep hunger, and the intersection at which we reach out in a welcoming spirit is a place of deep gladness. We share in our life together at RBC both the calling and the gladness.
This coming Sunday is Pledge Sunday, and the following Sunday will feature the ordination of Carol Weber to the deacon ministry. Both Sundays will be occasions for gladness.
And thanks for spoiling me! it is truly a privilege to be your pastor.