From the Pastor
When “More” Can Never Satisfy
(Ecclesiastes 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 9:7)
Juli and I had the opportunity to have some time away this past month. Many thanks to Pastor Zach and to those who filled in (Pastor Jim Stoltenberg, Mark and Megan Mantey, Bob Hirt) for me during our absence! One of the things that vacationing pastors get to do when they visit other congregations is see how others do ministry. I was happy to have the chance to visit a seminary classmate in action at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Riverside, California a couple of weeks ago. On the Sunday that we visited, Pastor Stephen Borst was talking about the spirituality of money and abundance. He invoked an image from the movie “All the Money in the World” that depicts J. Paul Getty being asked “How much would it take to make you feel secure?” Getty (the richest or certainly one of the richest people in the world at that time) answered: “More!” That image stands in stark contrast to the life lived according to God’s plan for us, though we live in a world bombarded with the message that having lots of money/possessions will lead to becoming happier or more loved.
Time and time again the Scriptures demonstrate that true joy is not found in acquiring or keeping “more.” It is, instead, the Spirit-enabled life of moving from acquiring to giving, from fearfulness to faith, from an attitude of scarcity to an attitude of abundance…or from a perception of ourselves as “owners” to an understanding of how we are merely “stewards” of what God has entrusted to us during the days we enjoy here together. We get it wrong so often. But as King Solomon in the Old Testament and St. Paul in the New put it, God-given joy is the key to approaching the good things in life as our Creator intended. Solomon discourages an attitude toward wealth that longs to cling to possessions from cradle to grave, writing, “When God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God” (Eccl. 5:9). St. Paul advocates on behalf of the poor in Jerusalem, encouraging the Corinthian Christians to give generously to the believers there— but to do so from an attitude of cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9:7)— not compulsion. The Corinthian Christians could take heart that their sacrifice would lead others to glorify God (9:13).
I mention all of this because the time of our congregation’s Pledge Weekend event is coming around again: November 13-14. We invite you to take part by either picking up a pledge card when you are in church November 6-7 to submit in person, or else submitting a pledge online here: rlcary.org/ministries/stewardship-weekend. The purpose of your pledge is not for our own church budgeting or fundraising efforts. It is for your own Christian walk. No matter how you submit your pledge, it will be completely confidential. I also believe it will encourage you to embrace the joy of Christian discipleship that only God can give! I have learned over the last two years that RLC is a generous congregation. We strive to serve God with the time, talent, and treasure that has been entrusted to us. If you are not currently serving in any particular ministry area at RLC, yet desire to do so, please reach out to any one of our pastoral staff or to the church office. We will get you connected! As we begin this month, we do so with the knowledge that the desire for “more” can never truly satisfy. With glad and thankful hearts for all that God has already done for us— and continues to provide— we dedicate a portion of what we have for the work of God’s Kingdom at RLC.
Thankfully—for all that we are able to do together in Christ Jesus….