October 20th, 2023 | Rev. Dr. Mark Charles
In the course of my ministry I often find myself returning to memories from my childhood and thinking about all the ways that my faith was shaped in those early years. For example, in my sermon this Sunday I will be telling you about our primary school assemblies and how the songs we sang there played a part in introducing me to Jesus.
I often tell you about growing up in the faith in Ballynahinch Methodist Church in Northern Ireland, sharing with you stories and lessons they taught me. The last time I was there was in August for my mother's funeral service. Mum was well known and well-loved in our home community and especially in our home Church, and that day, as I greeted those who had come for the service, I found myself greeting so many of the people who had introduced me to Jesus and shaped my faith in our little Irish Methodist Church family. Roger, Jimmy, Anita, Adrienne, Roberta, John, Adrian and so many more were all there and their presence was such a deep comfort.
Each year when we have a stewardship series, I think of those people. I think of the legacy of their giving in my life, and I'm reminded that I would not be where I am today without the generosity, faithfulness, and great love of my home Church family, who introduced me to Jesus and who have welcomed and loved me my whole life long.
I often talk about how our giving and stewardship makes a difference by doing good things in our community and world. And make no mistake, I wholeheartedly believe that the church is called to serve and give to make that difference beyond its own walls. However, the impact of that giving and service on the children and young people of our grace filled family cannot be underestimated. As we think of the children and young people whose lives are being shaped in faith at Memorial in 2023, who knows where they will go and what they will end up doing because of the love and grace they experienced here in their formative years. A few weeks ago, I asked Justin if he could get some responses from our youth to this question: Why is youth group important to you? Here are some of their responses:
“One of the reasons I love youth group is that we talk about God, and I love God. And I love the people here.“
“I love youth group because of the people that drop off food each week and go out of their way for us. It’s really helps out our group.“
“I’ve grown from youth group because every time I wake up in the morning, I always pray to God. And I pray before a test or when I need something.”
“One way I have grown in my faith is that I have becoming more involved in my community.”
“I have grown by going to the boy’s group every Wednesday. I’ve learned to really trust the people around me. They can help me out when I have a problem. “
Aren’t responses like these so deeply encouraging to read?
Friends, I give to my local church because I believe that what we do has an impact that is hope-filled, transformative for the world, and lasting beyond the years I will walk on this earth. This weekend, I will be pledging my financial support to Memorial again so that we can continue to make a difference in our community and world both now and for years to come. And I hope you will be too.
Blessings & Peace,