Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ready for the race

...let us run with perseverance
the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus...
               -- Hebrews 12:1-2

    Yes, I’m excited about the SuperBowl and happy for two quarterbacks racing for their first Superbowl win, but there’s a race coming up this month that’s really on my mind and already has my adrenaline pumping.  This is a race that will take endurance, sacrifice, team spirit and commitment.  This is a race that won’t reach the finish line for three years.  This is a race that will help change the world, and you and I are both invited to run.
     For the first time in 20 years, Atonement is building again.  20 years ago we dedicated the present building to the work of ministry and to the glory of God.  This building has been a place to teach children, to feed people, to worship and praise God, to heal broken lives, to gather gifts for the poor, to bless and re-bless marriages, to invite the community, to laugh, to sing, and to discover God’s love in countless ways.  Today this building serves a growing congregation in a growing community, and we need more room. 
     God has called us to expand the work He is doing here, and to do so we are launching a Capital Campaign program called Laying Foundations for the Children of God.  We know we are hugely privileged people.  The book of Hebrews tells us this is not because of our great faith, but because we have already received our promised blessing from God.  Adam, Abel, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and David — all great men of faith, still didn’t have it as good as we do.  We have the gospel and we know Jesus Christ.  “To all who received him, who believed in his name” John 1:12 tells us, “he gave the power to become children of God.”
      This month, we begin a race for the future of this congregation — for people who have not yet set foot in our sanctuary, who have not yet heard of Atonement, and for many who have not yet heard of Jesus.  We are laying foundations for people of all ages to be able to invite their friends to classes, dinners, meetings, and events that we can not hold in our present space.  We are racing to give this church a better chance to reach people God has already put around us in our neighborhoods and subdivisions.  We are racing to fulfill our mission of “Sharing the Love of Jesus, Glorifying God and Extending His Kingdom.”
     I believe God is asking each of us to pray, participate, and give generously to this mission.  To prepare for the race, count your blessings.  Remember how good God has been, giving you friends, family, church, talents and abilities, and opportunities to share Christ and to serve others.  After all, “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).  So as you decide what level of giving to commit, begin by asking God to show you your true and honest full potential.
      As you approach the starting line,  participate as fully as you can in the events of this program.  Besides attending church services this month, you are invited to a special Informational Meeting at 2pm on Saturday, February 9 at Saddlebrook resort.  The future building plans will be shared at this gathering, and everyone will have opportunities for questions and answers.  Most of all, make it a priority to attend the free Campaign Kickoff luncheon on Sunday, February 24.  This event will be a milestone in the history of our congregation — the starting gun goes off and the race officially begins.  There will be good food, some entertainment, and a message you won’t want to miss.
     And then together, side-by-side and unified, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”  Each of us is called to sacrifice, to flex our giving muscles, to stretch beyond what we’ve done before and give beyond our regular offerings to this new project.  Sacrifice means something different for everyone.  For some it may mean changing some day-to-day spending habits; for others it may be finding a way to increase your income; others may delay a major expenditure or draw from stocks, bonds, or other assets.  Whatever it means for you, my hope and prayer is for you to deepen your walk with the Lord and receive a blessing worth many times more than anything you are able to give.  We know God works that way, because no matter how fast we run the race, Jesus goes ahead of us.
Pastor Scott