“Stir up in your people the gift of the Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever.” – Affirmation of Baptism ELW
Our stewardship theme for this year is a prayer. It is a prayer inviting the Spirit of God to come and stir us up—to work within us, among us and through us so that we might find new ways to share God’s love with others. It is a prayer indicating our willingness to be stirred by God—and to respond to that stirring by how we live out our faith each day.
At our “Stir It Up!” worship service on November 11th we participated in a Reverse Offering where we were given a gift of money to use in whatever way we felt stirred by the Spirit .Two folks have shared their stories about this experience so far.
The first story comes from a member, Debbie, who looked to the places that make a difference in our local community and with whom she has a personal connection:
“I like the Reverse Offering program! It prompted me to make two donations. The first one that the $10 brought to mind was Bread of Life, as I have found it a humbling experience to donate my time and my money to Bread of Life. Due to other circumstances I have not been able to commit every month to donating my time. So I upped the donation to $50 and will process the forms so that National Grid matches it. $100 feeds two low income families for a month according to the website – the power of multiplication!
The second comes from a visitor, Knute, who came that Sunday to share about his ministry at Camp Calumet:
“I made a Sunday Morning visit and I received $10 from First Lutheran in Malden (smart way to get people to visit!!). I wondered what I might do with it. I needed to do something good and share the news.
One part of my job is to monitor Calumet’s Facebook page. During a time on Facebook I received a notification of a video recommended to me. It was Ellen Degeneres interviewing a man who, when I learned about his about one year ago, became a personal hero of mine. His name is Nathan Mathis, a peanut farmer in Alabama. He — very humbly but with much resolve — made a loud statement which received unbelievable media attention during the Senate race which involved Mr. Roy Moore. Moore is on the record as being just awful toward gay people. Well, he’s pretty awful in lots of ways … and he blasphemes the church with his lousy use of Holy Scripture.
Mr. Mathis, the peanut farmer, was the father of Patty Sue (if I remember right), a lesbian. As with lost of people who live in places like Alabama (but in places like Malden, too), Patty Sue didn’t make it. She found living just too complicated. She chose to end her life.
It’s tough being different. It’s tough when the majority treats you poorly. I know that personally. It’s painful that hate speech has been on the rise in the last couple of years. Hate speech makes a person who is different feel uneasy, anxious, and/or even scared. It’s especially tough when the majority uses God as a way of telling the different one that they are not good enough.
The world needs Mr. Mathis and every other person of good will to speak up and be heard.
In celebration of the efforts of Mr. Mathis, the peanut farmer — who spoke out against the lousiness of Senate candidate Mr. Moore (who eventuallywould lose the senate race) — Ellen organized an effort that a gift in Patty Sue’s name to be given to the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project helps young LGBTQ folks who are at risk, pushed out of homes, unloved by parents, thrown out of the church — that kind of stuff.
In deep appreciation for the rainbow flag in front of First, Malden, I chose to give $10 to the Trevor Project. I also decided to have a little fun. I asked friends to donate, too, during a 24 hour period. For each person who made a donation in any amount, I made an additional personal contribution of $5.
In the end, a total of $825 was raised.
And it started because a small but mighty church in Malden gave my an envelope with $10. Do something good. And share your story.”
These are just two of the remarkable stories of how God is stirring us up during our season of stewardship, when we talk about how we use the resources we have: ourselves, our time, and our possessions, including our money. We can’t wait to hear all of the other stories that are on their way. On Sunday, November 25th, at 8:45am, we will have a pre-worship potluck breakfast to celebrate the stirring of the Spirit and to share the stories of where God sent that $10. If you’re able, please bring a dish to share.
We can’t wait to hear more about how the Holy Spirit is stirring us up together. See you on Sunday the 25th!