Rev. William Bills
October 27, 2021
FROM THE PASTOR
Do not be afraid. These words are spoken by God in many, many places in the scriptures. They are also on the lips of angels. Jesus says it. Whether it is God, Jesus or an angel, they never say, there is nothing to fear. They say it because people are afraid. Afraid with good reason. My first response to God, Jesus, or an angel to hearing that would be, easy for you to say! It might be more helpful if God, Jesus, or the angels just said, I’ve got your back.
Do not be afraid is easier said than done. We can get caught up in imagined or irrational fear. But that is usually the exception. Fear happens on an intense, deep, evolutionary level. Normally there is good reason for it. It can be perfectly rational and healthy, too. Fear can keep us safe. It can keep us alive. When we are afraid it is usually for good reason.
Fear is an umbrella term. It covers a lot of things. Fear can be as varied as the number of people currently alive. It’s not a one size fits all experience. It can be personal and intense depending on one’s circumstances. We might create our own fear laden circumstances. Some things are thrust upon us at random. There are enough examples in the scripture to cover pretty much anything we might experience. People aren’t told to not be afraid when things are fine, either. This Biblical command is offered because there is reason to be afraid. So whether it is God, Jesus or an angel, I try to hear it as, I’ve got your back!
This time of year can provoke pastors and finance committees feel anxiety, if not fear. The fall fundraising campaign always comes with uncertainty. Will there be enough to fund the next year’s needs for missions, programming, salaries, maintenance and utilities? If not, what should we do? Should we write a deficit budget? What could be cut? Could we ask for more?
Covid has made for interesting financial management. We’re not spending on things we used to spend on routinely. We are spending on things that aren’t in our current budget. It’s hard to know how people have been affected. We can only guess what the long term affect will be for our church and the economy in general. Covid will have a lasting impact on congregations.
October 31 is our published deadline for receiving Estimate of Giving cards. Late arrivals will always be gladly accepted. To those who have returned their cards and to those who will, we are grateful. Planning for 2022 is anything but clear. Am I afraid? No. Mildly anxious? You bet! 2022 will offer some indication of the long-term effects of Covid on the Church (with a big C, not just us). So I keep reminding myself, do not be afraid, God has got our backs.
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.