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Giving

This past Sunday was a powerful experience of worship for me. I have to confess, on Saturday night I was a bit anxious. It had been a busy week, with an overnight trip to Atlanta on Thursday and Friday, and I wasn’t sure I had given enough focus to the Sunday sermon. On top of that anxiety, I had placed some high expectations on the service itself. I knew that it could be a powerful experience of healing and prayer, but I was afraid I hadn’t done enough preparation and praying to help that happen.

Well, once again I was reminded that God is faithful! Regardless of how much or how little I felt prepared, the Holy Spirit was powerfully present with us and helped us to open our hearts to God and to each other. For those of you who weren’t able to be there, we explored the final chapter of the Book of James and then, after the sermon, had a time of anointing with oil and prayer. People were able to come forward, if they chose, to be anointed with oil and then to pray at the altar about whatever pain or joy (or both) they were carrying with them. Some tears were shed, some hugs were shared, and there was holy love in the room.

The service was so emotional and powerful that many of us stayed in the sanctuary afterwards to talk. As I stood there talking with someone after the 8:30 service, I realized that it was 9:45 and time for the Town Hall Meeting. At first I thought, “Oh, I’ve got to shift gears now. We’re not in worship anymore. Now it’s time to talk about money and budgets!”

But as that meeting went on and the conversation about pledging and budgeting continued, I realized that the very same Spirit of love that had been so palpable in worship was still right there with us. The Holy Spirit didn’t leave the building at 9:30, only to return at 11:00. The Spirit doesn’t just show up for worship and then leave when it’s time to talk money. No, Christ is with the church in all things.

I felt Christ’s spirit with us in the trust we have in our Finance Committee. There was no suspicion or defensiveness in the room. I felt Christ with us in the genuine desire to build up the church and to do all we can to support the church’s mission. I felt Christ with us as people offered helpful suggestions and insight.

To be honest, I’m glad the Town Hall Meeting took place in the sanctuary right at 9:45, because it reminded us that everything we do–whether it’s praying at the altar, singing a hymn or talking about the administration of the church and giving our money–is an act of worship. There is no part of our life together that is not sacred.

So it’s only fitting that we make giving an act of worship. On Sunday morning, we’ll be invited to bring our pledge cards to the altar as a sign of our commitment to be faithful disciples of Jesus in every aspect of our lives, including our money. We will sing, we will pray, we will receive communion and we will give. It’s all worship. And I have no doubt that the Spirit will be with us through it all.