By Pastor Suzanne Clemenz
Scripture: Genesis 1 and Matthew 3:13-17
Here at Trinity, we are in the middle of a sermon series focused on our fall stewardship season. This is the special time of year that we look closely at and celebrate the ministries God has called us into together – the work that God is doing among us – and to also plan how we are going to continue that work in the year ahead. Our stewardship theme this fall is “Growing to Serve.” Each Sunday we are spotlighting an area of ministry, and I’m delighted to be able to share with you about the aspects of Trinity’s ministries that come under my care, which I think of, broadly, as Caring Ministry.
Under the large umbrella of Caring Ministry, we have specific efforts that nurture the care and wellbeing of folks in our midst. First, we have our Friendly Visitors, who are members of our congregation who have a calling, or a special desire, to reach out and connect in friendship to those in our church who, for whatever reason, aren’t physically present and able to participate in the day-to-day activities of the church. Often it’s advancing age that becomes a barrier to being present in the faith community, or it could be a disability or chronic condition at any age, or it could be a different set of unique circumstances. Whatever the reason, our friendly visitors have that nudge to reach out and connect with those who are at a distance so that they continue to be a vital part of our church family. We reach out to say, we remember you. You are important to us. We care about you. You are special to God; you are special to us at Trinity; you are special to me. We make that effort to keep these beloved members part of the fold. You know, there’s probably an element of vulnerability in their lives (though if we are honest folks, we all live in vulnerability). And what we are called to do is to see them and to bless them, not just in their vulnerability, but in the sum of all that they are. We are called to see them and to bless them.
By Pastor Mack Owings
Scripture: Luke 2: 41-52
Today I’m gonna talk about something near and dear to my heart, children and youth. That’s probably not surprising seeing as I’m the pastor of youth and families. I was in college when I began volunteering with a youth group and absolutely loved it. At first I thought it would be easy peasy, just show up and play some games with them, then talk about the Bible lesson for the day. However, I soon realized that youth ministry was a lot more than just games and Bible lessons. As students started to open up to me, I heard a lot of things about their lives that made me sad. Many of these students, some of them only in 6th or 7th grade, had a lot of difficult things going on in their lives, at home and at school. Some of these things I never could have imagined, and it broke my heart. These students had complex lives and really big feelings, yet the adults in their lives often dismissed those feelings. My job was to listen and to support the students as best I could, just like the other volunteers. It was so cool to see the adults in the group become a big part of the students’ lives by showing up for them and building healthy mentor-mentee relationships.
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: Galatians 1:11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. 14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.
Galatians 2:7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.
This morning at Trinity, we’re kicking off our fall stewardship campaign entitled Growing to Serve. Growth is appealing, isn’t it? We like to see our retirement savings grow. We like to see our paychecks grow. If we own a business, we like to see our clientele and our profits grow. Churches talk a lot about growth… maybe because data and statistics tell us we’re not doing very well at it. Across America, over the past couple of decades, churches are shrinking: shrinking in their membership, participation and giving.
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