Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
The next sermon in our current sermon series about The Good Life is very important. It’s called Money and the Good Life. The Scripture readings will be Malachi 3:7-10 and 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-19. Most of us know-at some level-that simply accumulating more and more money and possessions is not the secret to happiness or living a good life. But we also know-at some level-that it is very hard not to measure our lives by how much we have. We are tempted to believe that our value as human beings is closely connected to the value of our financial and material resources. During this week’s message we’ll consider a couple of ways, related to money and possessions, that we can take the next step toward God’s version of the good life. We will be clear that having money and material resources is not a bad thing. But we will also be clear that God cares about what we do with what we have. I hope you will plan to attend one of our services with your family.
As I’ve been preparing the messages for this sermon series, I’ve been thinking about my personal definition of the good life. In my reflections, I keep going back the messages we preached at this time last year. You may remember them. They were based on the question, How Will You Measure Your Life? Like songs that gets stuck in my brain, the questions keep coming back to me. How do I measure my life? What is really, truly most important? What is God calling and sending me to do at this time in my life? What do I want to accomplish? What do I want my legacy to be? And then … how will I know when I’m living the good life?
I think those questions, when we spend time answering them in the light of our relationship with God, have the power to guide and transform our lives. Even when we’ve answered them in an earlier season of our life, coming back to them on a regular basis helps us stay on track to live the life that we believe God wants us to live.
As I said in last year’s messages, the questions about how we measure our lives are appropriate for individuals, for families, for organizations, and for churches. These are questions that I am going to challenge St. Matthew’s Church to consider: how do we measure our lives together? How do we know when we’re accomplishing God’s purposes for our church and community?
Talking about measuring our lives can sound cold and impersonal. After all, how do we measure things like love and compassion. And I’m not suggesting that we try to reduce Christian faith to numbers that can be tracked on a spreadsheet. In the church we do count participation and attendance, we count dollars given and dollars spent. (If you think counting is unique to the 21stcentury, pay attention to the numbers in the Bible. They have meaning. They help tell God’s story.) My point is that the numbers we track in the church are evidence of the life-changing power of God’s grace. Consider just a few of the numbers by which we can measure our lives: 21 – the number of people who, for the very first time, have professed their faith and promised to serve Jesus as their Lord so far this year; 26 – the average number of classes and small groups that meet every week for the purpose of growing in faith; 58 – the average number of members of the church family who engage in church mission projects every week; 25,872 – the number of dollars distributed to people in need through the Joy Fund so far this year; 40,000 – the number of meals that were prepared last month for Rise Against Hunger; 209,974 – the number of dollars spent on capital improvement projects; 978,218 – the total number of dollars that have been transformed into ministry so far this year.
As we continue to learn how to grow in our faith together and increase the impact of our St. Matthew’s Church in the community (and around the world.) I hope you will recognize that money is part of the story, because money is transformed into ministry, which changes lives, which changes the world. Like you the church wants to do as much as we can to further God’s Kingdom. And we need your help.
Finally, I want to remind you about the next Pub Theology (on Monday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m. at the Auld Shebeen in Fairfax.) Pastor Nickie Moreno Howard and Bethany Printup-Davis (a student a Wesley Seminary) will be talking about their experiences living on the U.S. borders. It is a very relevant topic if you are able to attend.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.