Tis the Season

find more info The Sunday Sermon – October 11, 2015

their website Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 Hear the message: 

sites Internet ‘Tis the Season

 ‘Tis the season to be giving, Stewardship is here but don’t be sad!

            Time and talents, tithes for living, Stewardship is here –that’s not all bad!

Opportunities, opportunities, Stewardship, Stewardship, Stew-ard-ship

            Five full weeks of deep thanksgiving, Stewardship is here, let’s all be glad!

Pray with me … and Listen for the Word of God: Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season … some ancient Hebrew manuscripts insert “a time for discerning the giving of time, talents, and tithes and a time for actually giving our time, talents, and tithes.” Our New Revised Standard Version doesn’t … include that translation, but …(No, no, that’s not true …).

But it is true that this Sunday formally begins our season of Stewardship at Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church. I know what you’re thinking. It’s the same thing all of you think every time I point out that it’s Stewardship season. You think, “but the whole year is for giving! Not just one short season. We never stopped ‘stewarding.’” And you are, of course, correct. So let me once again this year put it this way: Ever since I’ve been part of this wonderful community, we’ve dedicated a few weeks in the Fall to talk very directly, passionately, and honestly about our giving to the church. The giving of our time and our talents, as well as the giving of our “tithes,” our monetary gifts, that sustain the mission and the ministry, the property and the personnel that allows us to be all we are called to be and to do all we are able to do as Christ’s hands, feet, and heart in the world. Now …

If we had started at the beginning of the book that contains our scripture reading this morning, we would have remembered these words from the ninth verse of the first chapter:   What has been done is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. So says our teacher from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. I want to suggest that this is not totally true about our Stewardship Season this year. Though it certainly is true that we’re doing a lot of things the same way as last year: We’re putting preliminary Ministry Team budgets together for our Finance Team so they may faithfully and more accurately put a first draft of our 2016 operating budget together; we’re considering all aspects of devoted stewardship as we engage again this year, including “deeper” commitments of time and giving of talents from all of you; I have once agin sat down with the Chair of our Finance Team, Larry Vice and we’re presenting “Minutes for Mission” from each of our Ministry Teams that include both “what we’ve done” and “what we hope to do” through the good stewardship of all of you, the members and close friends of PVPC. So, Qoheleth, the wisdom writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes is pretty accurate as far as this year’s “Stewardship Season” goes. But … We are looking ahead to something new, 2016, and, while next year will bring many of the same challenges, but it will also bring new ones.

Let’s first consider what’s happened so far this past year … 2015. I’m going to throw some numbers at you and hope that your eyes don’t glaze over. This is important, actually. It’s not really “Gospel,” but it is what enables us to teach and preach the Gospel, as well as administer the Sacraments and provide care for our community. So … don’t glaze over!

This past year – which isn’t over yet – we have done a lot of giving. Rounding off only a little bit, we have been working on an operating budget of $371,500. (That was actually one and half percent less than 2014’s budget.) We projected that almost $234,000 of that would come from member pledges (the remaining $140,000 comes from our Child Development Center in shared costs and the rest through miscellaneous income, such as …). As of the end of September, the end of the third quarter of our fiscal and calendar year, we have received almost $161,000 of your pledged contributions for 2015 – or almost seventy percent. The income from our other sources – the CDC and other miscellaneous – is at about ninety percent year-to-date. Now, we have an incredible Finance Team here at PVPC, and they and your Session are not unduly worried about the pledges as we begin this Season of Stewardship to 2016. We aren’t too far off the seventy five percent we ought to have received by the end of the third quarter, and traditionally December is a big month for pledged income as we all “tidy up” our books and fulfill our yearly obligations. We trust that our operating budget pledges will be fulfilled by our faithful stewardship to our 2015 pledges.

This past year we have also been giving to the last year of pledges made to our Capital Improvement Campaign, begun back in 2013. About two and a half years ago we all pledged $151,000 additional dollars to a Capital Campaign we called “Building on a Solid Foundation.” To date we have received almost $136,000 . Again, we know that our obligations will be filled in the months ahead, even into the first months of next year as that “three-year” campaign wraps up. So … that’s a lot of giving in this past year 2015.

And it’s always into the last few months of the year before that we begin talking about giving for the year ahead, the year 2016, now. And, once again we’re wondering – or I certainly am, at least – how to communicate the need for money honestly, without scaring anyone or abusing the “ask.” But this is a big part of what “stewardship” is – proactive and forward thinking, and this is a big part of what “stewardship” means,” look it up: The responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving. We have to talk about what’s next even before what’s now is over! So, even as we wrap up 2015, we look ahead. What’s new under the sun?

Well, to begin with, we will not have the responsibilities we committed to in our Capital Campaign this year. I know that some families have pledged and will be giving through March of this year. We didn’t actually get the pledge drive for that campaign out until right before Easter in 2013. But after that, this coming year will find at least one less financial obligation. Might the portion you’ve contributed to our campaign these past years find its way into you pledged amount for 2016. Perhaps just a percentage of it? A portion …

The incredible work that has been done to secure our foundation in the years past enables us to “build on that solid foundation” in the years ahead: a new roof, a new kitchen, a new gathering space, a new parking lot, a renovated and, I would say, revitalized worship space, and new Mission outreach. What a blessing your gifts have been to our “now” and for the future of this congregation. Again, perhaps with no campaign pledges “due,” our dollars may find their way into larger budgets for our ongoing ministry and mission, as we look out once again.

Also new this year, is the year-long recognition and celebration of our 150th Anniversary. An ad-hoc committee, made up mostly of members on our Member Development Team, has developed ways for us to be reminded all year of our pending sesquicentennial. That will actually begin on Sunday, November 22nd this year and continue through and culminate on November 20, 2016. This congregation was formally chartered in November of 1866. We are striving to make connections to the years between then and now with weekly announcements from church life in the last one and half centuries. And we are committed to monthly events that lift up worship, fellowship, music, leadership, ministries and mission that have been a part of the life of this congregation from the first day of its existence to now. That’s something new!

One of the preliminary budgets that was submitted at Session last month was in service to any financial implications the coming year’s Sesquicentennial Celebrations may incur. It’s a modest amount, to be sure. We are a frugal bunch – good stewards, we might say. But it is something new.

And finally for this morning, we will have new faces in these pews in the year ahead. I have no doubt about that. And what we do here in this short “season of stewardship” is to prepare the way for those not yet here.

We grow modestly here in this church in Pewee Valley. But even modest growth bucks the national trends. Last year Dan and Laura Fisher and their son Stephen officially joined us as members. They transferred their membership to Pewee Valley in February along with Peggy and Lydia Morris, who had recently moved from Richmond Virginia. Those five were joined by Nick and Mary Lee Taylor and their son Cal, who reaffirmed their faith and joined us on this leg of their journey last February. In August, Joanie Walser and Alan White found their way to our community after being married here in our sanctuary the year before. Matt and Hope Gardiner brought their children, Crain and Lily, to worship this past spring and summer and found a place where truth was spoken, where life was shared, and where love was given. They joined us in August, as well.

Last year as we prepared for the year ahead, we didn’t know they would be a part of this year. And this year, we don’t know who will be moved to become a part of our next year here. But we do know that this church – its buildings, its ministries, its message, and its people – is something we consider worth caring for and worth preserving for all who are here and all who have yet to arrive.

‘Tis the season, my brothers and sisters of Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church. Start thinking, start calculating – do the math, consider “first fruits” and not “leftovers,” start praying about how you will “care for, preserve and grow” your church in the year ahead. I’ll focus on the messages, your Session will focus on the mechanics, you discern your level of devotion to what can be for us in the coming year.

‘Tis the season to be giving, Stewardship is here. Let’s all be glad!

Amen.

Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / October 11, 2015