Dear Old Firster:
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed us what ‘exceeding righteousness’ — in a manner that fulfills the law and the prophecy — looks like. It’s an inspiring call to action, Matthew 5: 17 – 48; read it through and be inspired by it again!
Jesus is urging us to go beyond a grudging faith that is measured out by the letter of the law. He is summoning us to an expansive faith only possible if we let God’s Spirit take over. In the most well-known passage from these exhortations, Jesus offers us a challenge for days like these, “Be doers of good even in the face of the most dire of circumstances:”
If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.
We are finishing a second mile of giving as we conclude the Capital Campaign on December 31. The results are truly amazing:
- 110 families in total have given to the Capital Campaign.
- 34 have completed their pledges; 6 have donated more than they pledged.
- 30 are paying towards their commitments (14, we are hoping, are going to pay their full pledge right at the end!)
- 23 families gave without even making a pledge.
This generosity — hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth! — was donated after regular stewardship support for the ministry of this church! For three years, the Capital Campaign gifts have been the second mile of giving after people walked the first mile in their stewardship giving. For these three second-mile years, our stewardship income has continued to grow slowly, steadily and more reliably. Expanding Faithfulness! Exceeding Righteousness! Thanks be to God!
But consider this: what if our 3 years of “double-donating” wasn’t the second, but just the first mile?
From the Elders’ recent Capital Campaign letter, we learned: if we collect all the Capital pledges, we can finish the redesign of the front courtyard. And then, we’d be able to move forward with the third phase of the campaign, re-doing the sanctuary, which most of us are very excited about.
If these last 3 years were only the first mile, and this community has a second mile of generosity yet ahead of us, imagine what ministry Old First has yet to do!
Some people are talking about making additional Capital Campaign gifts.
Others, who haven’t been able to grow their stewardship contributions while they fulfil their Capital Campaign pledges, can find joy that they can now make a leap of faith and increase their stewardship giving more than usual.
And Old First promises to continue its ‘miraculous’ stewardship of all you entrust to our church — your gifts, however given, “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” to create and sustain and grow this precious ‘Love First’ community and all it accomplishes in so many peoples’ lives.
This church year is special with the first Sunday of Advent being later than usual. Accordingly, we will receive pledges in worship — appropriately — on the Sundays either side of Thanksgiving, November 19 and 26. Or you can also submit your pledge online at http://tinyurl.com/OFRUCC-Pledge using the electronic pledge form.
‘Exceeding Righteousness’ fulfills God’s expectation of us. Spirit-driven ‘Expansive Faith’ carries us and our giving. We are blessed to be part of a sacred community that embraces ‘Love First,’ all God means for our world…
Isn’t this where you want to invest your lives and make your most generous contributions?
Yours in Faithfulness,
Director of Stewardship