When people do the right thing. Photo by Maria Young.
Yesterday, I opened up my Facebook feed. Someone had posted a photo taken at my sweet children’s old elementary school. On a wall scrawled in spray paint were the ugly words:
People were outraged. Within hours, the lie was removed. In its place children and parents came together to beautify the spot with glorious chalk art:
Black Lives Matter.
All Are Welcome.
It was a great reminder to me that it’s not enough to be appalled when you see injustice. Mere outrage doesn’t change things. Good people have to be willing to act. So, thanks to all of you out there who are working actively (activists!) to change our world to reflect God’s kingdom. Your showing up means everything.
Now onward to other school related things…The beginning of July marks the new school year for United Methodists. Some of you clergy are staying right where you are (reappointed – hooray!). For others, you’re retiring (thank you for your dedicated service in bringing us the Gospel). And the last group – you’re going to a new church (both exciting and scary).
After 11 years, my pastor (Dan Pitney) is retiring. You can find me in my backyard with a box of Kleenex. This is hard stuff. There’s been so much change in the past four months that my head is spinning thinking about yet one more thing/person to get used to.
But I am excited to see what gifts not one but two new clergy will bring to our city’s United Methodist cooperative. Change can be invigorating too.
One piece of humble advice:
Don’t take too long to talk about generosity.
If talking about generosity is something that makes you squeamish because you might offend someone, this is the time to take the bull by the proverbial horns, throw off your fear, and embrace it. Because, guess what? They’ll never know that you were ever scared.
When my soon-to-be-retired pastor was new he followed this simple three-step plan to talk about generosity:
1. He did his homework. Dan became a history student of our congregation – all 175 years of it. He began recalling our storied place in the community, the city, and in the state.
2. Dan reminded us of who and whose we were through his sermons. Suddenly, we started sitting up a little bit taller. We had a legacy to keep!
3. Finally, he told us that we had a history of being a generous people. This generosity included our time, our talents, and yes, our financial gifts. I’ll never forget Dan repeatedly saying, “You are a generous congregation.” I remember distinctly thinking, “Well, if my pastor thinks I’m generous, I better start acting generous.” We took him up on his observational praise. We became generous.
1. Do your history homework.
2. Remind your congregation who and whose they are.
3. Tell them they are generous people and explain why.
For those of you going to new appointments, this is an exciting (and yes, scary) adventure. God is putting you in your congregations (with help from the Bishop and her cabinet) because it’s where God can use you in this time and in this place.
I’ll be praying that your new congregations will welcome you with open arms and…I’ll be praying that you’ll be ready and raring to extol the virtues of generosity.
Happy new year!