I have to admit I don’t remember being on the cradle roll. I actually started going to church before I was born in Tampa, Florida. I don’t remember much about the early days of my new church here in Atlanta. I remember Mrs. McClelland and Mrs. Webb. They worked in the nursery for at least 100 years. I remember sitting in Mrs. Webb’s lap, the most comfortable place in the world. I remember learning how to read music and play handbells as I was growing up. My minister of music (music director in those days) now lives at Lenbrook with his wife. Whenever I see him, I remember how he encouraged me to love music. I remember Sunday School teachers and RA leaders and a man named Bobby Ward who led the activities ministry and taught me the fundamentals of basketball.
I remember the difficult transition to yet another new church in 1966. As a teenager, leaving the familiar behind was hard. I made new friends in a youth group who made room for me. I remember singing in the first youth musical. I remember youth camps where I first realized God was calling me to ministry. I remember my first church job, an opportunity to serve and coach and teach. I remember a church that blessed me and started me on my way to the pursuit of theological education.
Why should you care what I remember? I’m not done. I remember a church that loved my parents and allowed them to love them back. I remember how church members tended to my parents as life became difficult with tough health issues. I remember a church that ministered to my family when they each exited this world for the next.
Here’s my point. At all the pivotal moments of my life, the church showed up. I took a lot of things from those experiences because I was given so much. There have been many times when the church gave to me.
I know the Church and the church have taken some hits lately. I know our church is struggling as life has become difficult with tough issues. I also know that this is not the time to back away or desert her. She needs us now more than ever. I have taken a lot from the church in my 65 years. I want to give to see her continue to show up when people need her.
My family and I have been blessed by the generosity and grace of many faithful stewards. This Sunday morning, Kim and I will be privileged to return our pledge to tithe and to make offerings during the coming year. I invite you to joyfully join me in blessing the church.
I have never given to a budget. I have given to express my gratitude for blessings received and to show determination to support the ministry of God’s people. We have work to do for the Kingdom’s sake. Our time, talent, and treasure become the measurements of devoted followers of Christ who understand the sacred trust God has bestowed.
I am a cheerful giver because I have been given so much!