A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: GIVING AS AN ACT OF GRATITUDE
It’s that time of year once again: the time when Thanksgiving has to fight for its place among our holiday celebrations. Stores shift over almost immediately from being defined by Halloween to being defined by Christmas, as soon as November 1 rolls around.
Much of that is driven by simple economic necessity on behalf of the store owners and managers: Christmas is by far the most important season of the year for most retail stores, and a successful Christmas season literally makes the difference between a profitable year and a disastrous one. That said, since stores are a major part of our public space, Thanksgiving often seems to get trampled from behind by overeager Christmas decorations and celebrations, just as it is standing up to take its own place as the central celebration of November.
It’s part of why I always appreciate that we dedicate our stewardship pledges to support the mission of the church in the coming year during November, and usually close to Thanksgiving. In the Christian church, giving is always an act of thanksgiving, of gratitude, of giving thanks in a concrete way for God’s grace and blessings and love that we experience in countless way as individuals and in our congregational life. It is an opportunity to pause and experience the fullness of our gratitude to God for God and one another, and for our common life and purpose as followers of Jesus Christ together.
This Sunday will be when we dedicate our 2024 pledges in both worship services. You should have already received a brochure in the mail with a pledge form. Unfortunately there was a small omission on the form that was mailed out, so we invite you to use this corrected form (if you already submitted the original form you received, no worries!).
We will also have extra forms on Sunday for you to use – and if you already submitted your pledge, we will have a small card you can add to the collection plate indicating you’ve pledged. And, of course, if you are unable to attend worship on Sunday, we hope that you will mail in or drop off your pledge form as soon as possible. You can also find the stewardship documents at fpc-bethlehem.org/give/.
Making your pledge not only helps the church as we plan for an exciting new year of ministry together, but it will help you get in the Thanksgiving spirit during this special season!
Finally, I just want to say a word of personal thanks for you as a congregation. Thanksgiving is when I began as your pastor in 2017, and so each year giving thanks for you and for this calling is an important part of my own Thanksgiving celebrations. I am profoundly grateful to be your pastor, and I am looking forward to another year of serving with you!
Grace and Peace,