The word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” Tomorrow many of us will gather around tables with family and friends to give thanks for our blessings. What a wonderful time to remember that our central act of worship, communion, also began as a meal around a table among Jesus and his friends, centered on gratitude! I recently learned that the Greek roots of the word eucharist, charis and chara mean “grace” and “joy”! Our gratitude does bear fruit in grace and joy as we “lift our hearts to the Lord.”
This certainly has been true for me personally, and I have seen it in the life of our congregation in the last two months since I have returned from sabbatical. Sabbatical did its job in my heart, mind and soul: I am deeply renewed. Grace is full of renewed energy as well: we are “back” from our long pandemic separation, not tentatively, but fully. In-person attendance has been up this fall and online attendance has increased. New families and youth are getting involved, and activities like the recent workday and Taste of Grace fundraiser have added to the bottom line of community. We are already preparing for not only a joyful Advent and Christmas season but an exciting 2023. Our outreach to the local community and partners around the globe remains strong.
You might remember that Fall has been the traditional “stewardship” season in ours and many churches, when members are asked to make commitments for their annual giving in the coming year. In three of the six years I have been at Grace, this process has been interrupted by fire, pandemic, or both. We made the decision last year to transition that focused time of commitment to the first part of the new year, leading up to the Annual Meeting and the start of Lent. Nevertheless, I wanted to reach out as we move through Thanksgiving and into Advent and Christmas to say that it is never too early or too late to give in gratitude for all God has given us!
Giving at Grace has evolved quite a bit, thus a few practical points. You can set up a recurring donation through Grace’s website grace-episcopal.org/giving/ or make a one-time gift there. If you’re like me, you may want to check before year-end to make sure a recurring gift you already have set up is still working! Not a fan of giving online? No problem! Checks mailed or dropped in the offering plate still work just fine. If you have given to Grace in the past, you may have received statements throughout the year from financial secretary Diana Deen which include an “annual estimate of giving”— this is your year to date (2022) giving according to our records. If you would like to update Diana on your 2022 giving or make a new commitment for 2023, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Giving at Grace is completely confidential; details of individual giving are only reviewed by the financial secretary and controller, Marshall Cox.
As we enter this season of gratitude, please know that I am incredibly grateful for you. It is through all our gifts given in gratitude, grace, and joy that God is changing the world.
In Christ’s deep peace,