The song lyrics go, “Give thanks with a grateful heart…”. It is used as an offering song after the gifts are collected. (Remember when we could collect the gifts?) The impression is that the gifts are from the heart, rather than from the mind. Our motivation to share what God has entrusted to us is from deep within us and is a response to God’s grace and love. This time of year, those who have farming in their family background, and others, instinctively think about harvests and how God does provide everything we need to survive. My experience tells me that we sometimes need to be reminded that God is the source of all things and how God urges us to share what we have without qualification. The early church gave us a model. In Acts 2:42, Luke tells us, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
   It appears like a simple formula for worship. There was a time of teaching, sharing of communion (breaking of bread), and prayer. They also had a time of fellowship. In our church history fellowship is what we do after worship and is about coffee and doughnuts or possibly even a potluck. It is good to note that the word translated “fellowship” in the original Greek is koinonia. In the first century church it did not speak to a time of socializing but rather the sharing the gifts God provides. Koinonia literally means sharing for the common good. The concept of “common good” can be found in the ancient works of Aristotle and Socrates, and it was first written of by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, then expanded on by philosophers through the ages. A summary line to describe this mode of thinking would be, “members of a community contributing whatever they can for the sustaining or betterment of the community.”
   In the church we are called to care for the community so that the Word can be spread, and the community (body of Christ) be built up. What we do today as stewards of God riches, not as owners, is for the good of those who will follow and continue the mission of God in bringing souls to believe in Jesus as the Christ. So it goes that your offerings may enable us to provide those services and opportunities that allow you to grow in faith and be comforted. Your offerings also make it possible for generations to come to hear God’s Word and come to faith. I give thanks for your faithfulness and openness to the Holy Spirit during this time of pandemic uncertainty. As you consider how God has provided for you and your family, please also consider the needs of the community of today and tomorrow. 
    It might seem to make sense that we would want to shrink our ministry in light of the unrest in the world. I am drawn to the reality that the world, beginning here at Long Lake Lutheran, needs the promises of God and the surety of God’s love now more than ever. Please join me in praying how we can be beacons of light in the darkness. Remain hopeful!
 
Pastor Rodger