October

October is one of my favorite months. It has been, ever since I was a kid. I just love the crisp, clear days, don’t you? And I love living in these mountains and watching the leaves begin to change; what breath- taking beauty!

However, as much as I love this time of year, I realize not everyone has such fond memories of fall. My great grandmother had a whole different perspective toward October; hers was a sense of foreboding in knowing that winter would soon follow. You see, she still remembered times when fall wasn’t about enjoying beautiful days, but rather working from sun-up to sun-down, working as hard as they could to gather in

the crops and chop the wood and make preparations for the livestock. This was how they made it through the harsh winters.

Granny would often tell me stories of what it was like living in those days. As newlyweds in the late 1890’s, my great grandparents became homesteaders along the Tennessee line in north Haywood County. Those were years of struggling to eke out a living in what is still a rugged and remote part of the state. To supple- ment their income, my granny taught in a one- room school—she still had a box of McGuffey Readers in the attic. A couple of times a year, they would load up the wagon and travel to a cousin’s general store in Clyde to trade for the staples they couldn’t make or grow themselves. It took them three days to travel those 20 miles.

Later, they were able to buy a farm near Lake Junaluska, where they raised a family and lived out the rest of their lives. Granny always talked about working hard and living frugally, but she was quick to say the most important thing that got them through the toughest of times was their faith. Along with a few other families, they also became charter members of Longs Chapel Methodist Church, which is my home church.

Stewardship wasn’t a word they ever used, yet it flowed from their deep faith into every part of their lives. In good times and bad, in abundance and scarcity, they always saw themselves as having been blessed by God. And they never stopped giving thanks! And giving back to God!

The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians said something that reminded me of my great grandparents. He was lifting up the faith and generosity of the Macedonians as an example to those new Christians in Corinth, and he said: “They voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry of the saints”

(2 Corinthians 8:3- 4). Whoa…can we imagine such a thing as someone “begging” to give to their church?

My great grandparents were not the sort to beg for anything. But when it came to supporting their church as an expression of their faith and gratitude, their generosity often exceeded their means. To them, it was simply giving back to God a small portion of their blessings so God could use it to bless others. And isn’t that why we give, too?

Our stewardship emphasis got underway last Sunday. Wasn’t it a grand celebration of God’s Spirit moving in our church through the choirs and children? Yes, indeed, God is doing a new thing in our midst; “don’t you see it” (Isaiah 43:19)?

We are looking forward to another “grand celebration” on Sunday, October 8th. That day, our church will be filled with children and youth, and both children’s choirs will sing again for “Children’s Sabbath.” And it is also “Consecration Sunday,” when we offer back to God our time, talents and financial gifts for 2018. Please prayerfully consider the way you might be a partner in “God’s new thing” in building up our church.

In the love of Christ,

Mike

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