You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Dear People of Christ and Grace,
I’m excited by this year’s stewardship theme, “Shining Our Light.” Our theme, taken from the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, speaks to us as individuals and as a community of faith.
Individually, each of us is called to make sure we are letting God’s light shine through our work, our friendships, our service and our giving. We are called to be light bearers. It is a powerful calling. As a faith community, we shine the light of Christ through our worship, welcoming, pastoral care and ministry to the wider community. How we use our time, talents, and treasure at Christ and Grace determines how brightly we are shining our light.
Each of you is a part of our call to keep the light shining brightly. Some of us make sure the refreshments at the coffee hour are delicious and abundant. Others participate in our worship either by singing in the choir or assisting in the service. Still others prepare the worship space with flowers or altar vestments. We teach our children, guide our youth, and represent the parish in our participation with various community service programs in the Petersburg Area and beyond.
This October, I invite you to reflect on the light that shines out into the world from this parish. How has the light from Christ and Grace brightened your life and increased your faith? How has it allowed you to use your gifts to bring light to the world? The light streams from your financial gifts and also from the many gifts of time, food, and skills shared from each member of our church.
As you reflect, consider those places that are still in need of the light of Christ and how we might be called to find new ways to share this holy light in the year to come. Your gifts will allow us to work together to shine our light in church, in our community, and in our lives. With your participation we can plan for a bright future where we are shining the light of Christ for all to see.
The Episcopal Church Welcomes You
Why I give?
The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. I have always loved that saying and find it to be very true in my life. No matter what your lived experiences, no matter the baggage you may carry and bring; you are always welcome at Christ and Grace. This is a safe place to come and worship without judgement (even when I may sing a wrong note in choir). For this I am thankful.
When I come to Christ and Grace to worship, I feel connected. It is a connection not only to God, but to the people in our church, you. I know the people of Christ and Grace will be there for me to celebrate amazing things, but also to support me when things are tough. I have already witnessed how we are there for one another on joyous occasions such as Holy Baptisms, Holy Unions and Marriages, and Celebrations of Life. I also have experienced how our church family comes together to support one another during challenges in our lives. For me Christ and Grace is family and I know I will always be accepted here.
I am thankful for Christ and Grace for welcoming me into this family. I find comfort worshipping with familiar faces. I also get excited when a new face or one I haven’t seen in a while shows up to join our family on a Sunday. I want our family to prosper and continue to lift one another up…in good times and in bad. I want to see our family open our arms and doors to others that need acceptance in their lives. I want to see our church family grow. Christ and Grace is here to welcome you. This is why I give. I have been welcomed by the Episcopal Church. I want our church to continue to welcome me, you, and those who have yet to be found. The Episcopal Church Welcomes you and will continue to welcome you…so pay it forward and give back.
--Allison Whitley, October 13, 2019
Giving for the Future
To give you an idea of how much this church means to me, I didn’t get home from a marching band competition until 12:30 this morning.
Although I don’t give in a financial way, I have given to this church in many other ways throughout the years. I have spent countless wonderful hours greeting and handing out tissues to the wonderful ladies at the ladies home, as well as put together at least 5 college care packages for youth group college freshmen. I have given lunches out to the needy at the street side church in Richmond, as well as hotdogs at the hope center. I have narrated and acted in the Christmas pageant, as well as the passion, as well as many other meaningful moments for me. This church means a lot to me, seeing as I was the only one of my two other siblings to have been in this church my entire life. Knowing that the people in this church have always, and will always have my back and support me is very meaningful. So please, in this season of fellowship, consider giving to the church so that future generations can have the same experience I have had.
--Samuel Gates, October 13, 2019
You Are the Light of the World
You are the light of the world! But if that light is under a bushel, It's lost something kind of crucial You've got to stay bright to be the light of the world.”
These words, from the musical Godspell , and adapted from Matthew 5:14, remind us in a fun way that, although our light may be shining, “something kind of crucial” is lost if we don’t bring the light we have out into the world, for all to see, for the glory of our generous God and the building of the kingdom.
At Christ and Grace, many members of our church keep their light shining brightly. We have seen that light demonstrated joyfully in our own parish: in our worship, learning programs, care for our facilities, and in our service to the wider community.
I am overjoyed at the generosity of the people of Christ and Grace, because when we bring our light out into the world, we express our gratitude, confidence and willingness to take risks as agents of Jesus remaking the world. In making our light visible, we keep our salt flavorful, as Jesus puts it in these words from Matthew 5, verses 13 and 14:
“Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.”
Indeed, our work, our prayers and our giving are all about making God’s flavors, colors, and love visible and available to all in our lives. And they are about our willingness to accept the challenge to stretch and grow, into our individual purpose, and into the mission of our church.
I ask all of you to reflect on the gifts you have received, and to consider how God is calling you to risk “flavoring” the world with your time, talents and treasure. I pray that we will join together to give abundantly to bring light into our lives and the world around us.
--Gene Ross, October 20, 2019
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
My name is Bob Holleman and I have become over the years a creature of habit. And so you will always find me in church sitting in the same pew which happens to have a tear in the kneeler. I think I may be a bit lost if the kneeler were ever repaired. For me that pew represents my comfort zone. I usually attend the 8 o'clock service, I listen to the lessons and sermon, I thank God for everything and ask for guidance for the upcoming week. After the service I go home to start a new week.
A few months ago I received a call. Christ and Grace needed a treasurer and I thought to myself, "OH MY GOSH - ME, Treasurer of Christ and Grace" ?! I can't say that I wasn't qualified having been in the financial services industry for years and having served as treasurer of other organizations. And certainly, as a very wise individual told me, if you are asked to take on a job, those who asked you must have faith in your ability.
Interestingly, since becoming Treasurer I have learned a lot about things that happen here at Christ and Grace that go far beyond the 8 or 10:30 worship service not to mention the Celtic Service. There is a vibrant youth program, Sunday School for children and adults, Bible study and outreach programs including The Hope Center, Martha Merritt, The Angel Tree, and help for individuals and families in need that often goes unnoticed. It’s truly amazing and it gives me comfort when I give. And fortunately, all of these activities occur because volunteers are willing to step out of their comfort zone. Yet they need some help.
Several months ago I stepped a little out of my comfort zone so now I ask, won't you please join me in giving and stepping a little out of your comfort zone.
--Bob Holleman, October 20, 2019