In the last several weeks we have learned about giving of our Time, our Talents, and our Treasures. I have thought about how to pull that all together and at the same time try to give you a financial picture. Then, when I was doing some reading, I came across this article and thought it fit. So part of this is from an article I read and part of this is my own words.
What does it mean to be a member?
A person becomes a professing member when they have been baptized and publicly profess the vows of the baptismal covenant, affirming their faith in God and their desire to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. They commit to a life of service in and through the local congregation (Book of Discipline, ¶217).
Our understanding of what it means to be a member is deeply rooted in our Methodist heritage. John Wesley was clear that Christianity is a social religion, and that our growth in holiness of heart and life is deeply dependent on being in face-to-face community with others who are watching over us (and we over them) in love. It is in the context of these face-to-face relationships that we experience what it means to be the body of Christ in the world.
For United Methodists, membership requires active participation in a local congregation. The vows of professing membership thus include promises to faithfully participate through prayers, presence, treasures, service and witness in connection with a local congregation. This pretty much says the same thing that we have been talking about the last several weeks, in our Time, our Talents, our Treasures.
Throughout our life, as we pray, study the scriptures, worship and share in fellowship with other Christians, we deepen our knowledge of and love for God. As we respond with compassion to human need and work for justice in our communities, we strengthen our capacity to love our neighbors. We confess and repent of our sins, ways in which we fall short of God’s way. In this way, our inner thoughts and motives, as well as our outer actions and behavior, are aligned with God’s will and testify to our union with God.
What are the benefits of such a commitment? That our hearts are warmed as we hear the Scriptures read and proclaimed ), that the Risen Christ is known in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24: 35). The mystery of the Risen Christ is present in the midst of all of you. You embrace me, you laugh and cry with me, and God heals me. You, as my brothers and sisters know my shortcomings, and so you keep me honest, but you also know my potential, and so you call forth my gifts. You share your heritage and your wisdom. We, as your church, need your commitment of your Time, your Talents, and your Treasures.
We, as a church, have done AMAZING things outside of our walls, not only in our community, but in the world as well! Think about what you have raised to contribute to Imagine No Malaria, Ghana, the artificial limbs, etc. Think about how many people, because of your contributions, have come to know who God is!! I mean, just stop and think about how many Disciples of Christ you have made because of all of your generosity….Yes, we are called to give outside of our walls, however, so that we can continue to do amazing things outside of our walls, we need to also do amazing things inside of our walls. We will face new challenges in 2017 due to the change in some laws which will increase our costs. There are always the boring and mundane day to day expenses to pay and we have really struggled this year financially. If you are not able to increase your pledge by the amount that you would like to, there will be other ways that you can show your generosity. There will be a Finance Bulletin board this coming year that will have some of these ways listed. If you feel called to do so, you can sign up for one or more item at that time.
Please remember, as you turn in your Pledge Cards, what you pledge is between you and God. But the tithe did not come about for God’s benefit, He has all the money He needs…Tithing was created for our benefit, to teach us how to keep God first in our lives and how to be unselfish people. God does not expect you to give what you do not have, but to give what you do have.
Thank God for what you have. Trust God for what you need.