This Advent I am especially thankful for the gift of urgency that pushed me to act. Several years ago, I had an age spot on my cheek. It was noticeable, but I had no sense of urgency to do anything about it. I was at the doctor’s office for a different reason when he mentioned he could freeze so it would no longer be noticeable. I agreed and didn’t think about it again until this summer when the same spot got very dry and began to hurt and itch. After a few weeks, I began having a sense of urgency to get it looked at by a dermatologist. At the appointment, a biopsy was taken and I was told the results would come back in about two weeks.
I was pretty sure it would be cancer, and the urgency shifted to getting it out of my body. The biopsy came back positive and I was anxious to schedule the surgery. The urgency shifted again to getting it over with. I knew injections would be involved and I don’t do well with needles.
There was also an urgency in getting this taken care of before it could become a serious threat to my health. In the past month, I’ve reflected on how this spot on my face has moved from not giving it a second thought to thinking about it almost every day. However, I’m grateful I responded to what was urgent for the sake of my health.
December is a month of urgency as we await the coming of Jesus. Each Advent I experience that sense of urgency as I open myself to how God is urging me to grow. This year that urgency is in helping congregations find innovative ways to fund ministries. As I engage in conversation with laity and clergy across the connection, I hear the challenge people experience in being stretched financially, not able to give more, and the cost of big old buildings eating up funds for maintenance and repair. For many decades we didn’t give stewardship a second thought and we had no sense of urgency to look at innovative ways of funding ministry. Ministry was funded on income from the offering plate and bake sales. Now that is no longer the case in many congregations.
God gives us many gifts, urgency is one of them and innovation another. When the two come together, they produce action. In this Advent season, I encourage and challenge you to prepare to act for new ways of funding ministry in 2018.
- Be in prayer
- Talk with leaders in the congregation
- Open yourself to move outside the bake sale box
- Call us at the Stewardship Foundation of GNJ for resources to fund ministry
Don’t wait until stressed funding become a serious threat to your church or ministry’s health and vitality. This Advent, may urgency push all of us toward proactive action for the sake of our mission’s well-being.