• Worship in the Park

Pastoral ponderings . . .

December is the season when almost everyone is “makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice.”  We have gifts to give, and we look for just the right ones that fit.

I’m starting this month of list-making with a gratitude list.  And up close to the top are you, my companions in Christ at Mount Tabor.  Your response to our stewardship drive for 2019 was phenomenal. In the first Sunday alone, Lee Kreutzer our volunteer financial secretary reported that we had pledges totaling over $124,000 for our shared mission and ministries in 2019!  As we close out this year, I have no doubt in my mind that this total will grow.  Our gratitude for every gift from God, and our desire to give back, gives me that faithful confidence.  I am so grateful for your witness to God’s love through the ministries of Mount Tabor.  Thank you one and all.

A gratitude list connects us with our good feelings. Especially the feeling of wanting to give back, to pay it forward, to make a difference for someone going through a hard time. Gratitude is the foundation of generosity. Gratitude is how we connect spiritually with God’s generosity.

I never used to take the time to donate blood until I became the recipient of nearly nine units of blood in the emergency room five years ago. If that blood, given by nine generous people, had not been right there for me, I wouldn’t be here today. I didn’t ask anyone to donate their blood for me. I never expected to need something like that. And yet it was there for me: a blessing from God; ready without my asking.                                                                                                                           

When I take the time to really ponder that gift, I’m really humbled by it. I’m grateful.  Grateful for the generosity of nine people who each took less than 30 minutes out of their day to donate one unit of blood.  Every day since has been a gift. I got to see the birth of our daughter Signe, and be there for all the birthdays since then. I got to see my mom hold our daughter Signe at her baptism here at Tabor, and go to mom’s funeral a couple years later.  I got to see the wedding of my oldest son, Seth, last November in the Black Hills. The gift of nine generous people made all that possible. And my gratitude for that blessing made me want to donate blood; to give back.

Pierre Pearson organized our fall Red Cross Blood Drive at Tabor in early November. Pierre tells me that a total of 21 units of blood were donated!  Having the opportunity to give back is a blessing too, isn’t it? Having the opportunity to act on the feeling of being grateful, in a meaningful way, feels really good too!  It feels good because it gives life meaning. It’s the opportunity to make a difference for someone else. Giving back creates hope in the world, and gives meaning to our lives. It shares the good news that God is With Us and that Christ is risen, and will come again.                   

Last month, we had the opportunity to act on the feeling of gratitude for the gift of Mount Tabor.  In our “This is What Love Looks Like” campaign we had the opportunity to say what our generous financial intentions are in our mission and ministry together in 2019. In this place of inclusive welcome, we have the opportunity to be intentional about giving back, and making a difference in the world. And by doing that, saying, “this is what God’s love looks like.”

It looks like this gathering of people, this community of welcome. It looks like all the fun we have together; all the support we give each other; and all the ways we try to help in a hurting world.  It looks like Duane Lee and Rodger Cochran, getting the leaves up around the church grounds in the fall. It looks like Lanea Brown, teaching us her recipe for baking the communion bread for God’s round table. It looks like Deb Elstad creating an amazing website for Tabor.  It looks like Brenda Wardle going the extra mile to be of assistance to all of us. It looks like Dolly Germundson delivering Food Assistance cards, Casey White sorting canned food at the Utah Food Bank, and Barb Moore organizing volunteers for Family Promise.                                                                                                                            

God’s love looks like a hundred small acts of thoughtfulness and kindness and generosity that you, God’s children at Tabor do every day; and that only you know. Doing good things for others is the best way to say thank you to God. Some people of faith call that their way of praying. Our generosity can not only be our way of praying, but also God’s way of making us the answer to others’ prayers. Isn’t that amazing?  Isn’t that a way of living we would want to be a part of?

That’s what we are doing as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ together: we’re celebrating God’s generosity to us, with acts of gratitude, and practicing living meaningful lives.    Who knew that it could feel so good? But it does! We get so much in return, like the widow whose jar of meal and jug of oil were never emptied, once she began sharing. Acting on our gratitude for God’s blessings, feels really good. I think it’s what living an abundant life is about, like Jesus promised.

Thank you for your presence, your generosity, and all the ways you choose to live God’s love through this church. May God bless our intentions for the new year, and continue to make us an answer to prayer.

                                                                                                            Pr. David