Being Stewards of ... a Churchwide Resource

          During the months of October and November, Pastor Lynn Miller, Pastor Tim Knauss and I are leading the conference meetings I introduced in my article in the September edition of The Lutheran Letter.  These gatherings are one of the ways I am inviting you into a renewed engagement with God’s Word and the discipleship that results from that immersion into the Word. 

            Now some of you may think that deepened faith and committed discipleship in the mane of Jesus mean laying a list of ‘you musts’ on you.  Not so for people whose new life has its roots in a God who created us amidst abundant resources, only to instantaneously discover a troubling ‘trust gap’ between us.  The news of grace is that there, in that gap, God’s creatures encounter anew the Almighty’s deep and abiding love in Jesus who was sent to make all things new … not just for a singular moment, but in fact for each and every day of our baptismal lives.

            The other day, as I was passing another car, the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of a bumper sticker that announced “Grace Happens”.  My first thought was to say Amen to that!  But upon further pondering the statement seemed inadequate for the Christian.  I mean grace does not just randomly happen.  No we believe that God is grace … and is intentionally at work in our lives and world constantly and continually.   In other words, because God is grace, therefore, we are a people of promise, possibility, and potentiality all day, every day!

          Now I am hopeful that if we were conversing with one another you could share a story of how you are a steward of God’s grace as it spills over into your life and in turn into acts of ministry in and through you.  If you are not able to do that it is time to ponder just how God is at work in your life and be able to speak of those moments as stories and bright spots in your life.  Believe me moments of God’s grace-filled work in our world abound in your life, the ministries of your congregation, the Allegheny Synod, and our Evangelical Lutheran Churchwide Ministries.  Identify them!  Verbalize them as stories and share them!

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has done exactly that … capturing ministry stories that are generated by the continual waves of God’s grace touching and flowing through ELCA Lutherans like you and me.  It is a booklet entitled Stories of Faith in Action.  Contained within the pages of this wonderful resource are the descriptions of twenty-one different stories that reveal God’s grace overflowing into ministries that touch people’s lives with the love and forgiveness, mercy and hope of Jesus Christ. 

As has been the case in previous years, you can order this booklet at www.ELCA.org/resources.  But the Allegheny Synod Council has suggested that we have a link for each of those stories on the Allegheny Synod webpage.  Look for the header – Stories of Faith in Action.  Select and then browse.  It is hoped these links might make it easier for you to utilize these bright spots in your bulletins and newsletters to interpret how our Mission Support offerings, given in response to God’s grace in our lives, touch and make a difference in countless lives all across the globe. 

It is because God loves us so deeply that we in turn are able to share that love with others.  In other words, because God is gracious, therefore you and I are empowered to love, feed, clothe, engage, and embrace both visible and hidden persons in our congregations, in our local communities, and across the world.  That response reflects a living faith, one wherein we continue to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit deepening our faith and using us to touch persons with God’s abundant grace!

                                                                        +Bishop Pile