“What is essential? And what is non-essential?” Krista Tippett raised these two questions in her talk on “Remaking the World” last week. It reminded me of the things I let go of during the pandemic: frenetic activity, relationships that were not life giving, eating out, meetings that could have been emails, shopping, owning two cars. And then there were the discoveries of what really mattered: conversations with neighbors, uninterrupted evenings with my husband, simple dinners cooked at home, long walks in the neighborhood while talking with a friend, empowering those in the service industry with generous tips and acts of kindness, supporting the economically disadvantaged with financial support, biking with the grandkids, weekly worship on a screen shared with my family. Now that we are emerging from the severity of the pandemic, it seems to me that how we answer these two questions is how we will “remake the world.”

We have adopted the theme “remaking the world” for our annual generosity campaign where each of us decides on our estimate of giving for the coming church year. I want to thank you for the ways that you showed that the church was essential to you during the pandemic. While I initially feared that church giving would decrease due to the economic uncertainty, I was completely wrong. You generously gave even more than what you had previously given. Oh sure, some had to pause their giving due to job loss. But overall we stepped up and gave even more to support our congregation and the missions locally and globally that we care about. With your giving you expressed that in times that are uncertain, we know more clearly than ever that our church is essential.

Looking back over my life I think of those moments when I knew that life was beautiful and sacred. When Catherine Stark-Corn prayed with my husband and me before he went into surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. When Steve Bough mentored our son in 6th grade pastors’ class but then stayed with him and sent him encouraging notes all the way through high school. When Cindy Thornton slipped me a “courage” bracelet on a Sunday morning because she knew I was going through radiation for breast cancer. When our daughter walked down the aisle to get married. When Carty Johansson and Lance Jessee built a home for a family in Nicaragua and taught me how to twist rebar by hand. And when the choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus just two weeks ago.

Sometimes at worship, we sing, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” and I am grateful that I have you, a faith community, who is always there to help me sort out what it means as a follower of Jesus to discern, “what is essential and what is non essential.”

Grace and peace,