2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1: 2, 3 New Living Translation
Last Saturday morning our Deacons and Elders met together for their final meeting of 2017. Long ago I learned that since no one wants to meet close to Christmas, it’s better to conclude of the work of the church by the second Saturday of December. It’s one of my favorite meetings of the year.
We first gathered for coffee and breakfast. Picture thirty happy leaders sitting around tables in Fellowship Hall and hear the room filling with joyful sounds of folks sharing their lives with one another. Snow was in the forecast for the day; and the weather people were right that day. Small flakes fell as we moved into our work. There is nothing like snow to keep meetings moving and focused.
The combined boards heard the statements of faith from our newly elected officers. Several of those new deacons and elders referred to their statements of faith they drafted when they joined Thompson Memorial in the past. One man said that when he looked at what he wrote eleven years ago, he ripped up his old one and wrote a whole new statement of faith. This new statement was brilliant, full of faith in Jesus Christ and a passion to serve Him. Afterwards the man told me that he felt embarrassed by what he wrote so long ago. You shouldn’t be embarrassed, I told him, it’s a great thing that you have grown so much in your Christian faith. I like the way Joyce Meyer puts it: “I'm not where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be.” And you can add that you can trust God for what you are going to be, by His grace one day.
The parking lot was turning whiter with every passing minute. The Deacons headed to the Conference Room for their business as the session headed towards the Music Room for theirs. While I needed to be in both places at the same time, I had to start with the session. We had three items on our agenda: thanking those who had finished their work on session, call a meeting of the congregation and vote on the 2018 budget. I’ve sat in budget discussions through the years that lasted hours. I smile as I tell you this that our entire session meeting lasted twenty minutes. I ran back to the Conference Room in time for the last five minutes of the Deacons meeting.
Our budget discussion took ten minutes. The budget for next year is slightly more than this year and includes $10,000 of additional monies for the Mission & Outreach budget. There are reasons why our budget sailed through including excellent work by our Finance Committee. You deserve some credit too. You are a generous congregation; and I am grateful that you are, especially as I heard a pastor tell me about a three-hour budget meeting.
The Apostle Paul almost always started his letters to various young churches with an expression of authentic and heart-felt thanks. I know how my old friend felt.