Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Message to My Congregation As We Confront the Current Financial Situation

Over the last few months many of us have watched as reports about the economy have turned increasingly gloomy. Some of us have not only had reports via the media, but we have been personally touched by employment insecurity, diminished income or assets, or an inability to obtain credit for either ourselves or people we know.

Certainly we as a church have grappled with the fallout of this situation with respect to the 2009 budget. As you have heard, we did not receive the level of commitments that we had initially hoped for. As I write this in mid-December the Finance Team is engaged in developing strategies for increased income and limiting spending for the coming year and Church Council will take decisions on January 6.

At the same time, as the financial situation grows precarious, we need to come to grips with the more fundamental reality of the Gospel. We have lived in a very affluent time. We have lived out the myth that we could have whatever we wanted if we just worked hard enough. We lived in the assumption that there would always be more and more and we could without significant risk borrow against tomorrow to fulfill our desires of today. These engines fueled what has turned out to be an optimistic bubble.

As people begin to lose the distractions and opportunities of affluence, the Church remains a place to reorient priorities and lifestyles into conformity with the deeper human and divine realities of love and generosity.

As people begin to fear more deeply what their economic future may bring, the Church remains a community in which security is in God’s love poured out through one another in giving and receiving.

As people begin to experience increased need, the Church remains a place where the sort of miracle of provision we read about in the Bible happens in real life as the Holy Spirit energizes and empowers us to take the next step on the journey together.

These are challenging times. These are the times when the church is tested. May we with God’s help continue to faithfully proclaim God’s Word to reclaim God’s people.