Stewardship 2017: Home

Thank you for making this HOME.

 “…Or as close as it can get,” is what Jose Juan told me about a week after we had welcomed him into Sanctuary. That was April 2016, and he was fighting to remain with his family in America. We were helping him. One reporter that came to interview him asked, “Why do they want to send you home?” and he corrected them: “My home is here.” For the better part of this year University Church has been helping Jose Juan get back home.

And students have made this place home – a new young adult group has started – and your church has become a faith community for many that are missing the warmth of home.

Whether HOME is a feeling or a place (both, right?), University Church has aimed to be more than a house of God, but home for the community. It worked in 1894, and it is working today. You have felt it personally and the city is feeling our extravagant welcome.

None of this happens on accident. In the ancient days, the people committed to giving a portion of their harvest to sustain the temple and care for the poor. It was called a “firstfruit” and a “tithe” and an “offering” – all the things we still call it. The idea of a “pledge” is simply to anticipate and get started working BEFORE the harvest. The people of faith wanted to work together to make the temple a home.

This church has been passed to us after 122 years of revered history in the city – as an advocate, a public witness, and a place of spiritual healing. We believe in transformation – inside and out – we believe in opening doors that seem locked. Especially right now.

God is still calling us to do our part. Last Stewardship season, we added our piece to the puzzle. From your piece came the support of an immigrant family; community forums; a new youth pastor; a Fall festival; more families; deepened spiritual practices; new energy and gifts being put to use. All because of you. In 2017 we’ll do even more, with God’s help and your contribution.

Be prayerful over your finances as you prepare to turn in your pledge card. For some, a 10% “tithe” of your income will be what you write, and less for others. As pastor, all I ask is that we have 100% participation. Full participation of our congregation, of any amount.

Stewardship Sunday is November 20th this year (my 6-year anniversary as pastor!). We’ll receive pledge cards through the end of November. You can also call or email the office with your pledge.

Thank you for making this HOME. With your help, we’ll get a little closer!

— Pastor Julian & the Stewardship Committee

Being Mindful (C. Bayer)

The following is a post from Rev. Charles Bayer, who was once pastor of UChurch and now shares his writing with people who happen to end up on his mailing list. For an 86-yo man, the consistency of dynamic thought is worth sharing, especially after this Election Season, which I have capitalized for some reason. Enjoy “BEING MINDFUL (11/16/16)” -JD

There are several lessons that I have had to learn over and over. By the time the next Presidential election comes around I will have passed my 90th birthday. The little electric circuits in that amazing organ between my ears will have further hardened, and my memory will have become much more fragile. So here I am the day after the election, and I need to pay attention to lessons I have too readily ignored.

The first is a need to breathe deeply and take my time before registering any strong opinion about a current issue, particularly when I have an obvious emotional response. The cake must be given time to cool before it can be properly cut. When I have forgotten to put my mind in gear before I launch into a verbal or literary barrage, I have not only often been wrong, but also embarrassed. So I am drafting this column on the morning following the devastation wrought in the election. While my emotions are in overdrive, I have decided keep my foot off the gas pedal, at least for now.

Some things are clear. Nobody much will really care what those of my generation will have to say. There is only a modest place for the old liberals who still think we are the wave of the future. We are not. We may be the wise old men and women of the past, but unless a new much younger generation seizes the reins linked to the important issues before the nation, what we have dreamed about will just be that—fading fantasies.

In the next weeks I will still occasionally write about a few political issues, but I will probably change directions and do more introspection than I will issue proclamations.

Those who live near me realize that I am having a major problem in locomotion, and use either a cane or a walker to get around. In this less than robust state I have found that most people—particularly strangers—are ready to go out of the way to be helpful, even when I tell them I can get across the street by myself. I have had to learn to graciously accept what they so readily want to offer.

Something happened a few days ago that I will not forget. I had driven to my bank, and had parked in one of those blue-signed handicap spaces. These days I need to take my time getting in and out of the car, so as I was hauling my leg from the door to the street, there appeared an older gentleman who was probably of Asian extraction. He did not offer a hand but gave me a much more important three-word gift. He said, “Be very mindful.”

I had often heard that expression from friends of mine who may be Buddhists, or at least know about that religion. But here in the parking lot of a bank I finally began to understand what mindfulness might mean. At the latter reaches of a very active life I may be learning to pay attention to what is going on at the moment. Among other things, it means to be a better listener to what someone has to say. It means to look seriously at nature—not to find an image to paint, but for its own sake. It means to be fully committed to a conversation that is taking place, without letting my mind wander as I plan what I should say next or think about what I am going to do that afternoon. It means digesting what is immediately before me before pontificating about it.

So, many future columns will be more focused on what is more interior and personal. I’ll still deal with the political and social issues that will continue to consume me, but I will take my time before firing up my Mac. And my reaction to yesterday’s election will take time to incubate before I am ready to proclaim.

To the unknown gentleman who suggested that I be very mindful of getting out of the car, he will take his place in the pantheon of saints who have helped shape me.

—by Charles Bayer