Hello, beautiful people!
Wow! The weather is FINALLY beginning to turn autumnal! The pumpkins are beginning to thin out a little, the store shelves are now lined with Christmas decorations. We must be approaching … Halloween. Alas, the consumer culture now begins the holiday season on October 31, but maybe that is not all wrong!
While I have little interest in the gore of much of the décor and costumes, Halloween is the beginning of the feast of All Saints on November 1. All Saints is our memorial day in honor of those who have joined the Church Triumphant and the saints who bask in the glorious light of God. In the 8th century, families would start praying for the departed at sundown, October 31, in preparation for worship the next day.
So, the TRUE meaning of Halloween helps us understand the meaning of our entire holiday season: Gratitude. On All Saints, we give thanks for those whose faith has shaped our own. On Thanksgiving, we give thanks for the rich bounty of creation and the blessings of this life. At Christmas, we give thanks for a God who joins our human life through Bethlehem’s manger.
This November, we will double down on our grateful thanks to a generous God by committing to generosity ourselves. We will find the power to “go all in” with Christ, who has gone all in for us.
The Greatest Love
On November 4, we celebrate the feast of All Saints to honor our sacred dead, particularly those who died this past year. We will thank God for them by name and join them at the Communion table as Christ hosts his family from every generation.
The Greatest Gift
On November 11, Veterans Day, we will give God thanks for our veterans and their families. Jesus will teach us about true generosity from Mark 12.
Going All In
On November 18, we will enjoy Thanksgiving Sunday as Consecration Sunday. Jesus teaches his disciples, both biblical and contemporary, about the difference between scarcity and abundance. On this Sunday, we invite you to “Go All In” by making an Estimate of Giving to God through Mary Esther UMC for the coming year. A catered lunch will follow the service in the Fellowship Hall. Get ready to make a reservation!
The King of Love
On November 25, we observe Christ the King Sunday & UM Student Day. We have the distinct honor of hearing the Rev. Dr. Karl Stegall, retired, in the traditional service at 10:30 a.m. Dr. Stegall has been a tremendous influence for Christ in our Annual Conference. Upon his retirement, First UMC Montgomery, AL, established the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund in his and his wife, Brenda’s, name. The fund has increased to $10 million and has changed the face of theological education in the AWF Annual Conference. We are grateful to have his leadership on this day.
So, November, including Halloween, is really all about GRATITUDE, GENEROSITY, and THANKS LIVING as subjects in the greatest reign around; the Kingdom of God. I’m grateful to be in it WITH YOU!
See you Sunday!