Sabbatical was a time of growth for us

I am so proud of our congregation as we reach the end of Michael’s six-month sabbatical! We have experienced consistently excellent, soul-stirring, thought-provoking worship planned by the Sabbatical Worship Team. We have begun a new way of doing religious education that provides opportunities for people of all ages to use the hour before worship on Sunday mornings to learn and grow together. Lay leaders have addressed electrical issues in our basement and shepherded our Solar Project through the uncharted path of gaining permission from the city to proceed (as well as raising the $125,000 needed to construct the array.) We created and funded a plan to address trees that need to come down to protect our building and outdoor gathering spaces. Many of you have experienced the power of being leaders in various aspects of congregational life, and have a deeper appreciation of what it takes to keep our community running well.

I am also grateful to the team that is organizing our pledge campaign this year. They are making a bold, courageous ask for $300,000 in pledges to meet our budget goal. Here’s what I know: many of you have deepened your commitment to our congregation and its service. You already know the joy that comes from belonging, in a deeply committed way, to this covenanted community where we pledge to dwell together in peace, seek the truth in love, and help one another.

Here is a nudge for some of you. If you can give more than you do, now is the time to step up and feel the joy of giving to support our congregation. We are here today because of the generosity of the generations that supported the church before we came. Our job now is to take good care of this church to the very best of our ability for generations yet to come. We have seen a significant increase in newcomers over the past few months, including several delightful families, looking for a spiritual base camp and loving community to support them in these turbulent times. Those who have been here for years are feeling new urgency to get involved in social justice. Our voice of support for refugees & immigrants, for LGBTQ folks, for sustainable energy policies, and more, matters.

Our care for one another in times of personal upheaval, illness, and grief still matters. One of my favorite readings is #468 in the gray hymnal:

“We need one another when we are in trouble and afraid… We need one another when we would accomplish some great purpose and cannot do it alone… We need one another in the hour of defeat, when with encouragement we might endure, and stand again… All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us.” — George Odell

I tithe as a spiritual practice, because we need a place to be together. I cannot imagine anything more important that taking good care of my spiritual home – for myself, for you who are part of this community now, and for the people who are about to find us and help carry us into the future. It lights a fire in me to be here with all of you. I love you more than I can express, and I am deeply grateful for the gifts each of you bring to make us who we are. And If you are one of the folks who can go bigger with your pledge? Let’s DO THIS THING! May we Kindle the Flame for our future!