Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
I hope you are doing well this week.
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we going to consider the power of gratitude in a new sermon series called, With Grateful Hearts. In the midst of everything that is going on in the world around us, it is often hard to feel and express gratitude, but studies show that gratitude increases happiness and well-being, improves mental and physical health, and is one of the keys for having healthy and meaningful marriages and other relationships. The Bible speaks to the importance of gratitude in developing a deep and meaningful spiritual life. In fact, one of the verses we’ll consider on Sunday simply says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) The first message in the series is entitled, Made for Gratitude. The Scripture readings will be 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Luke 17:11-19.
One of the things we know is that there is a profound relationship between gratitude and generosity. We often express our gratitude in tangible ways. It’s true in human relationships. It’s also true in our relationship with God. We give tithes and offerings in response to God’s grace and as expressions of our gratitude for the gifts and blessings we’ve received. That’s why tithes and offerings are an act of worship. This past Sunday, we returned Estimates of Giving (EOG’s) for 2019 as an act of worship. Yes, church leaders use this information to plan ministries for the next year, but more importantly, Estimates of Giving remind us of God’s blessings, and give us an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to God and God’s Church in a concrete way. Simply put, through our Estimates of Giving and our tithes and offerings, we say thank you to God for all that God has done.
So far, we’ve received 110 EOG’s for a total of just over $521,000. This is a good start, but we need to hear from everyone who considers St. Matthew’s to be their church home. I want to express my gratitude for everyone who has already turned in an EOG and I want to encourage everyone else to do so. If you need a physical copy of the form, you can download it at this link. Either bring the form with you on Sunday or mail it to the church. You can also make your Estimate of Giving online. Don’t forget that online giving is available. If you want to set-up automatic payments to the church, you can use the online Estimate of Giving link. You can also fill out the back of the Estimate of Giving form. Online giving saves church resources and makes sure you can fulfill your commitment when you are traveling. Many people find online giving helps them grow in their stewardship. Please note: if you use our automatic online giving service, it must be reauthorized every year.
Finally, we held our annual Charge Conference this week. As part of the meeting, the Alexandria District Superintendent, Reverend Jeff Mickle, talked with us about the called General Conference that will take place in February 2019. He showed a video that described three of the plans that the General Conference will be considering. He also gave us two links with additional information: www.vaumc.org/GC2019 and www.novaumc.org/a-way-forward. I would encourage you to review these sites and the information in them. A link to the names and contact information for the Virginia Conference delegates to General Conference can be found on the vaumc.org page I mentioned above.
Jeff also asked us to pray for the General Conference. He suggested that we set an alarm on our phone so that we can pray between 2:23 and 2:26 every afternoon. (The General Conference will be held between February 23 and February 26.) Even if you are not available at that time, please for the Church: pray for St. Matthew’s, pray for The United Methodist Church, and pray for God’s universal Church. Pray that God’s will is done and God’s mission for the world is accomplished. Pray for a miracle – and see what happens.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.