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Pastor’s Message 11-9-18

A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR J.C. AUSTIN:
“What’s the Deal with… the Offering (and Pledging)?”
(part of an occasional series on aspects of being Presbyterian)

When you talk to people who have little experience with Christian worship, one of the things that often strikes them as the most odd when they attend is the offering. Once a curious attendee reached out to me after they had come to worship a few times and asked, “So, what’s the deal with the offering? Seems like a lot of hoopla every week when you can just put a check in the mail or do a direct deposit instead. Wouldn’t that be simpler?”

When you think about it, it IS a lot of “hoopla” in the service: one of the worship leaders calls for the offering; the ushers come forward with plates and pass them in front of every single person for putting in gifts; they gather in the back and march back in while everyone who is able in the congregation stands and sings; and then one of the worship leaders says a prayer over the offering before they carry it back out again. So what’s the big deal?

There are two main reasons it is a big deal. The first is for people who are giving. We believe we are called to love and serve God actively and intentionally, following Jesus through all that we are and all that we have. The Offering gives us a chance every week in worship to respond actively to God’s Word and God’s call through our giving.

The second reason it is a big deal is for the church itself. We are the Body of Christ in the world, working to build up Christ’s kingdom here and now. The weekly consecration of the offering reminds us of that, and asks for God’s help as we do so, every week, to keep us on track as a community of followers of Christ.

This coming Sunday is an even bigger deal: the dedication of our pledges to support the mission of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem through our giving in 2019. Making a pledge at the beginning of the year means that the Session can set our mission priorities in advance, stepping out in confidence that we can complete what we start.

That is a very big deal, because it means we can be bold and intentional in our ministry rather than wondering what we can do from month to month. So I’m asking you, if you have not already, to consider what you can do to support the mission of this church in 2019, to be bold and generous in your giving so that we can continue to expand our work and impact in this new era of the congregation, and to be present on Sunday to experience your pledge and your gifts being dedicated to God’s glory and purposes through this church. I look forward to seeing you!

Grace and Peace,
JC

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