Weekly Update 11/13

This Sunday:  The theme for this Sunday is Joy!  Rev. Victoria Long will be preaching.  Culture frequently imposes upon a people what life should look like.  Faith invites us to redefine those expectations; to reimagine what forms joy might take.  See 1 Samuel 2:1-10.  


Church School: Elementary and Middle School youth are welcome.   This morning the theme is Joy and the teacher is William Otis.


Pastor Away: Rev. Wells is away from Nov. 14-19.  For pastoral care, please contact Jim Andrews at jimbandrews@gmail.com.


Advisors for 2020: It’s time to think about who will serve as advisors for the church for 2020.  The advisors are responsible for overseeing the life of the church including finances, personnel, property and grounds, and other administrative concerns.  In addition, they help to “advise” about all aspects of church life.  The term is for one year.  Are there people you would like to see serving as advisors next year?  Would you like to serve as an advisor?  There are forms available at church for you to fill out with the names of people you would like to see as advisors including yourself.  Please put the forms in the Leadership Selection envelope on the bulletin board at church.  The names suggested will provide the pool of people to be considered to serve for the next year.  Many thanks for your participation in this important process at LUCC!


Westminster Suncoast Lunch: All those connected with the church who are residents of Westminster communities are invited to lunch on the third Wednesday of the month, Nov. 20 this month, at 11:30 a.m. in the main dining room at Westminster Suncoast.  


Thanksgiving Sunday Ahead: Sunday, Nov. 24, will be a celebration of Thanksgiving.  As part of the service, the congregation is invited to bring something that represents what they are thankful for and place it on the altar.  Rituals of Thanksgiving are especially significant when times are challenging.  This is an opportunity to uplift one another. 


Winter Wonderland: Maximo Elementary will open up a “Winter Wonderland”  room at the school for their children the third week in December.  The room will be filled with  donated toys and gifts ranging from  small things like books and games to large items like bicycles and helmets.  Children at the school are receiving tickets earned for good behavior.  These tickets will be used to select toys and gifts for family members, friends and themselves.

LUCC’s Education Ministry Team  will be collecting unwrapped toys and gifts  that folks bring to church the next four Sundays.  These will be delivered to the school.  If you are unable to shop but want to give a toy/gift  give  a donation  to the church and designate it  for “winter wonderland.”  Help plant a seed of wonder in a child’s life!  Thanks everyone!


Congratulations Jim Andrews: In September of this year, Jim Andrews completed the process for commissioning and ordination with the Federation of Christian Ministries (FCM).  FCM is a progressive organization which ordains chaplains and others involved in public ministry.  Jim is grateful to everyone at LUCC for their encouragement and support through the years.  


Letter Writing: A letter writing station has been set up at church. Look for opportunities to share your faith perspective on immigration, the environment, and gun safety with elected officials. At the letter-writing table, there will be a petition related to ending gun violence.


Mountain Dulcimer Lessons Bring your dulcimer and a music stand and willingness to play! Join us for a great lesson on Thursday November 14th and 20th at 4:00 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.


 Ben Prestage Concert (Tennessee, Blues/Roots Music) : Join us to see Ben Prestage perform and share his talent! Ben has participated in the International Blues Challenge (the world’s largest gathering of Blues musicians) and within three consecutive years he took 4th, 3rd, and 2nd place. He is also the only two-time recipient of the Lyon/Pitchford Award for “Best Diddley-Bow Player.” Ben’s interesting approach to instrumentation (fingerstyle guitar, harmonica, banjo, lap-steel, fiddle, resonator guitar, foot-drums), vocals, and his award-winning original songwriting (recipient of “The Most Unique Performer” at “The Song- Writers’ Showcase of America”) have earned him invitations to perform across North America, Europe, and as far as North Africa. All awards aside, he has proven himself, through his live performances, to be the future of American Blues, Roots Music, Americana and is one of today’s most talented outsiders. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. on November 15th. Suggested donation of $20. All proceeds go to the artist. Please feel free to contact the church with any questions! lakewooducc@gmail.com or call at 727-867-7961.


Operation Attack: Operation Attack is very much in need of clothes for men, boys, and girls as well as diapers and peanut butter and canned fruit. Donations may be placed in the shopping cart in the entryway to the sanctuary. LUCC volunteer nights include sorting clothes and bagging food. All are welcome to volunteer! The next opportunities are Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Operation Attack is an ecumenical effort serving families with children located at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd. Ave. S., St. Petersburg. LUCC was a founding member of Operation Attack in the 1960’s!


Hearing Augmentation: Devices are available from the usher in the sanctuary during worship.


November Birthdays: Lucille Ruga 11/9, Emily Bell 11/15, Sue Sherwood 11/15, Maurice Gunyon 11/16, Ed Kaspar 11/21, Lorne Palmer 11/21, Bert Lee 11/22, Bill Lindsay 11/23, Wally LeBlanc 11/23, Kai’Lyn Washington 11/27, Jane Diven 11/29. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Tony Rogers, David Rowland, Sherry Santana, Jen DeGroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, and Ann Rogers.


Recent Post:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the church office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Sermon 11/10 What Seeds Are You Planting?

Date: Nov. 10, 2019 The BIG Event – Stewardship Sunday
Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 55:10-11 and Matthew 13:1-9
Sermon: What Seeds Are You Planting?
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells


Even I, who was raised by city slicker parents and have always lived in an urban or
suburban environment, know that this parable is not a lesson on farming.

Farmers very carefully assess where and when to plant their seeds. They prepare
the soil with precision and care. Then, when the time is just right, they plant the
seed. Today’s combines are guided by programs on iPads to dispense the precise
amount of seed based on the soil conditions foot by foot through the field. For
farmers, seed is an important investment and they are not going to waste it. Their
goal is to plant it in the most effective way to get the highest return. They want
that yield – 30 fold, 60 fold, even 100 fold!

Seed is an investment like other investments. We pride ourselves on investing
carefully. Where it will pay off. Where the return will be maximized, whether we
are investing seed, or money, or time. We want to see a return. This is the
transactional mindset in our culture. We do something to get something in return.
We are trained to be transactional beings and not only regarding our financial
affairs but in relationships with people, with institutions, with government, and
within society as a whole. We want to know the expected yield before we invest.

The parable we heard today abandons the transactional model entirely. And on
purpose. There really is no quid pro quo here. The farmer plants seeds on the
footpath, the rocky ground, and among thorns. The story tells about the planting of
seeds everywhere. Strewn with abandon. Cast away freely in a wasteful manner.
It’s a random, inefficient investment strategy. And yet, some seed yields 30 fold,
some 60 fold, and some an unimaginable 100 fold.

This planting scheme is more related to nature than agriculture. In nature seeds are
strewn freely. Seeds like dandelions blow through the air and land where they will. Birds spread seeds through their poop. Just look at the plants growing below a
fence where birds sit. Fruits protect seeds which then are deposited randomly by
the animals that eat the fruit and eliminate the seeds. Animals spread seeds on
their fur. So, in nature, we see the widespread, indiscriminate dispersal of seeds.
And this system works. What we hear about in the parable seems more related to
this natural process than to agriculture.

In the parable we hear of the seed of God’s word, the gospel, love, being spread far
and wide with abandon. Unconditional, universal love. Strewn everywhere,
wanted or not. God invests in everyone. Because no one is irredeemable.
Because everyone can bear fruit. Because some seeds will yield, 30, 60, and even
100 fold. So the seeds are freely scattered with the knowledge that some, some of
these seeds will help to grow a better world. And they will be enough.

We see this kind of seed planting in Jesus. Jesus was constantly planting seeds of
love. He offered forgiveness. He healed people. He shared food. He told people
about a world where no one was left behind and everyone was beloved. He shared
a vision of a different kind of reality. He was planting these wonderful seeds all
the time. But many of the seeds that Jesus planted fell on deaf ears. Many people
dismissed Jesus. Many despised him. He was killed because there were people in
power that wanted to end his planting seeds of justice, mercy, and love. Yet many
of the seeds Jesus planted grew and bore fruit. Some 30, some 60, some even 100
fold. That is why we have the church today. It is the result of those seeds that
Jesus planted.

The church is here to help us know that we have seeds to plant. We are needed to
spread love and compassion and justice in the world. The church is the soil
nurturing us, helping us to grow. Helping the vision of the gospel grow in us;
getting stronger and more deeply rooted so that we can spread the love, the
universal, unconditional love of God, in all circumstances and situations. The
church is here to help us be people of integrity, critical thinkers, people of moral
fiber, compassion, and creativity. And to encourage us to plant the seeds of God’s
reality with abandon. This means being nice to the person who is mean to you.

Getting to know the person who isn’t fair. Giving to a hopeless cause that you
know is right. Taking the job with the huge cut in pay because it makes your heart
sing. Getting involved in social justice and ministries of compassion to serve the
least of these. The church is here to grow the gospel in us and encourage us to
spread the seeds of love in the world – with wasteful abandon.

Rev. Dr. James Forbes was our preaching professor at Union Theological Seminary
in New York City. He went on to serve as the pastor of The Riverside Church in
New York. In his retirement, he continues his ministry, spreading seeds of love
and hope. He has this to say about the church:

“In God’s grace the Church discovers that its member are not helpless victims of
alien powers but bearers of gifts, competencies, and influence for effecting change.
Just as Moses was told to use the rod in his hand and the disciples were bidden to
feed the multitude with the lunch they had, so we are expected to use what we
have. One of the functions of the Church is to help its members discover and
release their power in ways that promote the cause of the Kingdom. Professionals
and non-professionals, trained and untrained workers, rich and poor – all are
influencing their context either by reinforcing the status quo or promoting change.
The issue is not simply one of getting power but of becoming aware of how we use
the power we have, and then developing expertise to make an impact on our
communities for good. The Church is a sleeping giant. What a powerful witness
we could be if the parts of the body came to a new awareness of the power that is
at work within and around us!”

This is another way of talking about planting seeds. And Forbes emphasizes that
we have a lot of seeds, power, to spread in the world. Remember, some of the
seeds will produce an inconceivable yield of 100 fold.

When we look at the world today, we know that we are needed to continue to plant
seeds as Jesus did. We see the rise in acts of racism. We see hate crimes
committed against people who are Jewish and Muslim. We see the break down of
the environment due to human activity which has created global warming. We see violence growing like a cancer in our country. We see the negative attitude toward
immigrants when the only people on this continent that are not immigrants are the
indigenous native americans. We see the rise of anxiety and mental illnesses. We
see little concern about an economic system that creates extensive wealth by
creating extensive poverty. We are needed to plant seeds, seeds, and more seeds!
Strewn everywhere. Cast about with abandon. Some won’t do much. But some
will. Some will produce 30 fold, some 60 fold, and some even an amazing 100
fold.

In closing I want to tell you about the redwood tree. It starts from a small seed and
grows to become the largest plant on the planet. These towering trees, some over a
thousand years old, are still to be found in the forests of northern California. In the
book, Wild Trees, author Richard Preston tells of a college student obsessed with
these trees. He and a friend launch themselves into a tree which they call
Nameless and they make their way to the top. Now, we know how that type of tree
grows, right? There are large branches at the bottom and the branches become
thinner and taper off near the top. Right? Well, that is not what these college
students found as they summited Nameless. Here’s how Preston describes the
mature growth of the coast redwood tree as discovered by these adventurous
students:

“As the redwood enters middle age [about 800 years old], it typically loses
its leader. Its top spire dies back. . . and it falls off the tree. . .
“A redwood reacts to the loss of its top by sending out new trunks. The new
trunks appear in the crown, high in the tree, and they point at the sky like the
fingers of an upraised hand. The new trunks grow straight up from larger limbs,
rising vertically and traveling parallel to the main trunk. As the new trunks rise
and extend themselves over centuries, they send out branches. These branches
eventually spit out yet more trunks, and those trunks grow branches that send up
more trunks, and so on. The tree is becoming a grove of redwoods in the air,
containing redwoods of all sizes, from tiny to large. This aerial grove is connected
to the ground through one main trunk. The whole structure is, of course, a single
living thing.” [pp. 20-21]

And this single living thing, a huge tree, with a grove at the canopy, hosts many
other forms of life – many species of lichens and mosses, hanging gardens of ferns
and other plants. Before these college students made their ascent, scientists
considered the redwood canopy a redwood desert. But these students discovered a
whole vast forest ecosystem at the top of the redwood canopy!

And it all starts with a seed. Just one of the 6-8 million seeds produced by a
redwood tree each year. Seeds so tiny that a million seeds weigh just 8 pounds.

May we plant the seeds of the gospel with indiscriminate wasteful abandon.
Because some will take root. Some will yield 30 fold, some 60 fold, and some will
produce an astronomical, unimaginable, explosive yield of 100 fold – food for all,
community for all, material and financial security for all, justice for all.
Inconceivable abundance emerges. When we plant our seeds. Amen.


A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

Weekly Update 11/6

This Sunday:  It’s finally here: The BIG Event. Be part of the celebration of the extensive ministry of LUCC! The theme is What Seeds are You Planting? Fellowship and refreshments follow the service. DON’T MISS IT! For transportation, please contact the Church Office.

Church School this Sunday will be led by Olivia Gibson. The theme is Generosity!


Creation Justice Task Force to Meet: The meeting is Friday Nov. 8 at 12:30 p.m. All are welcome.


Advisors to Meet: The Advisors will meet this Sunday following worship. All are welcome.


Congratulations Jim Andrews: In September of this year, Jim Andrews completed the process for commissioning and ordination with the Federation of Christian Ministries (FCM).  FCM is a progressive organization which ordains chaplains and others involved in public ministry.  Jim is grateful to everyone at LUCC for their encouragement and support through the years.  


Pinellas Coalition for Immigration Justice: Thanks to the ongoing work of organizations like the Pinellas Coalition for Immigration Justice, long-time protesters at the Homestead Migrant Child/Youth Detention Facility, and elected representatives like Charlie Crist who have stood for compassionate, just, accountable immigration policies, the Trump administration announced today that the Homestead facility will be closed by Nov. 30.  Caliburn International (donor to Sen. Scott) has been charging taxpayers $720,000/day for a  now-empty facility. Special thanks to the LUCC postcard-writers Sunday, who asked our elected Congressional representatives not to re-open Homestead – and to monitor that these children receive the care and education required by law for any children.  Twenty post cards were mailed over two Sundays! You might just have been the “tipping point” for change.  Thank you, Lakewood!  The Pinellas Coalition for Immigration Justice meets next week for further action steps. – Sue Sherwood


Name Tags: For those who requested name tags on Oct. 13th your name tags are now ready. Name tags are in the long red basket near the entrance of sanctuary, usher name tags are in the green basket right next to the red basket. If you are in need of a name tag, please speak with Wally LeBlanc.


Letter Writing: A letter writing station has been set up at church. Look for opportunities to share your faith perspective on immigration, the environment, and gun safety with elected officials.


Lakewood Day Trippers: Cross Creek on Thursday has been postponed and rescheduled to after the 1st of the year to get some more involvement and people interested to go. For more details contact Patti Cooksey or Carol Shores.


 Ben Prestage Concert (Tennessee, Blues/Roots Music) : Join us to see Ben Prestage perform and share his talent! Ben has participated in the International Blues Challenge (the world’s largest gathering of Blues musicians) and within three consecutive years he took 4th, 3rd, and 2nd place. He is also the only two-time recipient of the Lyon/Pitchford Award for “Best Diddley-Bow Player.” Ben’s interesting approach to instrumentation (fingerstyle guitar, harmonica, banjo, lap-steel, fiddle, resonator guitar, foot-drums), vocals, and his award-winning original songwriting (recipient of “The Most Unique Performer” at “The Song- Writers’ Showcase of America”) have earned him invitations to perform across North America, Europe, and as far as North Africa. All awards aside, he has proven himself, through his live performances, to be the future of American Blues, Roots Music, Americana and is one of today’s most talented outsiders. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. on November 15th. Suggested donation of $20. All proceeds go to the artist. Please feel free to contact the church with any questions! lakewooducc@gmail.com or call at 727-867-7961.


Operation Attack: Operation Attack is very much in need of clothes for men, boys, and girls as well as diapers and peanut butter and canned fruit. Donations may be placed in the shopping cart in the entryway to the sanctuary. LUCC volunteer nights include sorting clothes and bagging food. All are welcome to volunteer! The next opportunities are Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Operation Attack is an ecumenical effort serving families with children located at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd. Ave. S., St. Petersburg. LUCC was a founding member of Operation Attack in the 1960’s!


Hearing Augmentation: Devices are available from the usher in the sanctuary during worship.


November Birthdays: Lucille Ruga 11/9, Emily Bell 11/15, Sue Sherwood 11/15, Maurice Gunyon 11/16, Ed Kaspar 11/21, Lorne Palmer 11/21, Bert Lee 11/22, Bill Lindsay 11/23, Wally LeBlanc 11/23, Kai’Lyn Washington 11/27, Jane Diven 11/29. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Tony Rogers, David Rowland, Sherry Santana, Jen DeGroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, and Ann Rogers.


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the church office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Sermon 11/3 Leaving a Legacy

Date: Nov. 3, 2019 All Saints Sunday
Scripture Lesson: Luke 19:1-10
Sermon: Leaving a Legacy
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

As the story of Zacchaeus begins, Zacchaeus is a hated man. He is leaving a
legacy as a cheat, a greedy scoundrel. He is considered an outcast by his religion.
He is not allowed to be part of the faith community. Why does he climb a tree?
People are not going to make way for him. They would be more likely to bully
him; maybe even spit as he comes by. That’s how hated he was.

Here’s how it worked for a chief tax collector. The Romans demanded that certain
taxes and fees be paid. Tariffs, customs fees, tolls, and the like. The Romans hired
locals, Jews, to do the collecting. A chief tax collector would pay the Romans a
lump sum in advance then proceed to actually collect the money from the people.
The chief tax collector would overcharge the people to make a profit. Zacchaeus
was rich, rich, rich from basically stealing money from his own oppressed people.
It was a dishonest system that was set up for abuse. The chief tax collectors were
hated for helping the Romans who were the bad guys. And they were hated for
stealing from their neighbors.

So, we are told that Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus as he comes by. No one is going
to make room for him at the front of the crowd. No one wants anything to do with
him, even though he is rich; because he is rich. People have no respect for him.
His legacy is as a traitor; a greedy, dishonest thief. So, he’s up a tree. A sycamore
tree. Which was a large evergreen that made an inferior type of fig eaten by the
poor. So he is up a low class tree! Amos 7:14 [NIB, p. 300]

But then Zacchaeus has a meeting with Jesus and his legacy completely changes.
He is transformed. Now we remember Zacchaeus for his welcoming Jesus into his
home. And for his generosity; giving half of what he has, and remember he is
very, very rich, to the poor. And then we are told Zacchaeus commits to paying
back anyone he has cheated what he took multiplied by 4. Four times what he
stole from people. That is above and beyond the requirements of the law. We aren’t told of the good that comes from his generosity, but certainly it must have
helped the people of the community. His legacy changes from being rich and
greedy to being rich and generous. And he is named a son of Abraham and Sarah,
who were also rich and generous. This label marks his acceptance back into the
community. He is restored to the joy of human community and restored to God’s
image within him.

Zacchaeus is remembered for joyfully giving away with his wealth. That is his
legacy in contrast to the rich young ruler from another story of Jesus who is not
able to give away with his wealth. Zacchaeus eagerly sheds his extensive wealth
and makes amends for his past wrong doing. He is freed from being bound to his
wealth and possessions. Earlier in the gospel Jesus is attributed with saying: “It is
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to
enter the kingdom of God.” [Luke 18:25] Zacchaeus is that rich person! He is
changed and becomes part of the realm of God, the commonwealth of love, here on
Earth. We remember Zacchaeus for his willingness to be transformed and for his
eagerness, generosity, and joy. That is a very different legacy from the one he was
creating at the beginning of the story.

We also want to note Jesus’ legacy in this story. Jesus reached out to an outcast.
Someone who was hated. Jesus is remembered for seeking and saving the lost. He
shows no condemnation of Zacchaeus. He is not disgusted by Zacchaeus. Jesus
not only singles out Zacchaeus, he goes to his home and eats with him. Jesus
makes friends with Zacchaeus, this vile, greedy, hated man. So we want to
remember the comment about how the crowd responded to Jesus’ encounter with
Zacchaeus: “All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the
guest of one who is a sinner.’” This meeting with Zacchaeus was not a crowd
pleaser. That, too, is part of Jesus’ legacy in this story. When you do the right
thing, you should not expect to receive praise. In fact, it may provoke anger,
resentment and hostility. Jesus plants a seed and with Zacchaeus it takes root and
thrives and bears much fruit creating a new legacy for Zacchaeus.

And so, in thinking about this, let’s turn to thinking about our legacy. What kind of
legacy are we creating? How will we be remembered? How do people think of
us? We want to think about our legacy and consider where we are. Do we need to
changing like Zacchaeus? Are we willing to let go and embrace a difference kind
of future? Are we willing to live from the image of God within us, like Zacchaeus,
not afraid to be generous, eager and filled with joy?

Sometimes we can get stuck thinking that people will never change. That player
on the team won’t get better. That student won’t improve. That employee will
never get it right. The economy is unjust and unfair. Racism isn’t going away.
The poor will always be with us. It’s just the way things are. We may think that
we really can’t change, or not much. And that nothing exciting or transforming is
likely to happen in our lives or our world. Except that it might get worse. But this
story reminds us that what we are made for is so much better than where we may
be stuck. Jesus calls us to our true selves as people of extravagant generosity,
capable of being freed from our attachment to money and possessions, people
meant to live with bubbling joy in loving community.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came for us. With our corrupt economic
system, our ingrained prejudices, our attachment to wealth and possessions, our
Earth- destroying lifestyle. He came for us, we who seek distraction and escape in
addictions – to shopping, gambling, sex, drugs, and all manner of things. We are
up a tree and Jesus is calling out to us. Seeking to save us and free us from a
legacy of apathy, abuse, and destruction. He is inviting us to create a new legacy.
To be remembered for generosity. For justice. For change. For compassion. He is
inviting us to lives of meaning and purpose and community. Jesus is seeking to
give us that which will not only satisfy but will bring us joy.

On this All Saints Sunday, as we prepare for The Big Event, our annual
stewardship Sunday next week, this is a time to think about the legacy we are
leaving: With our lives, our actions, our choices, our time, and yes, our money.
Remember, Zacchaeus was joy-filled as he gave his money away. Next Sunday we
are being asked to give our money away, to the church, as part of our legacy. This

is intended to be a joyful expression of generosity. It is to be our “yes” to Jesus
and his reaching out to us, to save us from being lost and going in the wrong
direction. This is an opportunity to be creating our legacy of generosity freed from
bondage to consumerism and money. This is a chance to plant seeds for the good
of the world and for our own good. With our giving of time, talent, and treasure to
the church we are creating our legacy. Maybe for some of us we are continuing a
legacy of being generous. Maybe for others we are trying to open ourselves to the
image of God within us by being more generous.

Here I want to share a story of someone who lived a joyful life of giving and
purpose from which we are all benefitting. I hesitate to single out one person from
Lakewood’s long legacy of faithful, generous members. Many of the members of
this congregation have left a legacy service, compassion, and money that is
inspiring. Well, Roger Goodson was one of those people. Roger spent his career
in education, as a teacher, a school administrator, and a professor of education.
This mission was so important to him that he had to hide the fact that he was a gay
man so that he could continue his ministry in education. He paid a great price
personally. Thankfully things have changed and gay people are accepted as
teachers now. When Roger retired, he and his partner, Tom, moved from San
Diego, California to St. Petersburg. Roger joined Lakewood Church. And he
continued to make a contribution here. He served on committees and attended
worship each week. He pledged his money as well as his time. Roger liked
gardening and here in St. Pete he lived in an apartment. So almost every morning
of the week, Roger came to church to work on the grounds. He spent many hours
weeding, raking, trimming and planting. And he loved it! He would tell people in
the church how much fun he was having working on the grounds each day. It
wasn’t because he wanted to brag. It wasn’t to get recognition and be thanked. It
was simply that Roger could not contain his joy in giving. He was having fun!
Roger was also very generous with his money. He eagerly told people that he had
left Lakewood Church in his will. He was so happy that he could continue to
support the church with his financial legacy.

Some years ago, Roger moved back to San Diego. But every year, he continued to
send a financial contribution to LUCC. And he let us know that he was keeping
LUCC in his will. In his note to the church last Christmas, Roger told us that he
was coming to the end of his life, and he made sure to let us know that LUCC was
still in his will. It brought him joy to know that he could offer support to a
congregation that he loved. Again, he didn’t want any thanks or special treatment.
He didn’t want to make others feel badly in any way. He simply wanted to share
the joy that he received from following Jesus and reflecting the generosity of God.
So, Roger left Lakewood UCC in his will. And here is the rest of the story. In
January of this year, our congregation passed a budget that was short $26,467.80.
This is about 22% of the funds needed for the daily operation and ministry of the
church. One fifth. One important factor contributing to this deficit is the many
people from the congregation who have died in recent years. And the church has
no money stashed away in reserve accounts to use. How were the staff going to be
paid for the year? How were the utility bills going to be paid? The church just put
on a new roof and put in new air conditioning last year. That was a big investment.
But with this large shortage of funds, the continued ministry of the church looked
unsustainable.

Then the project with Neighborly Senior Services to provide adult daycare here at
the church emerged. With this program we could use our building to provide
services to the community and get needed funds for the church budget. But the
adult daycare program has been delayed. It will hopefully open by March of
2020.

So there is still this $26,467.80 deficit. We were up a tree. The church was
notified that Roger Goodson had died. We were grateful for his life and witness
and his peaceful passing. And then we heard about his bequest. $25,575.43. Just
about $900 short of amount of money the church needs to keep functioning.
We are here today as a church because of the faithfulness and generosity of
the saints in our midst and those who have gone before us. Roger Goodson is only
one example. There are many more, including the anonymous donor who inspired the generosity of the congregation to pay for the roof and the other needed building
maintenance. There are many, many generous people in this church who give not
to gain recognition but out of the joy of giving and hoping to inspire the generosity
of others so that they can know that joy as well.

In the Zacchaeus story, we see that Zacchaeus is joyous not because he gets an
award from the poor for his generosity. Nor because those he cheated are grateful
to him for his restitution. No, we are given the impression that Zacchaeus is
joyous because he has been found, he is reclaiming the image of God within him,
he is experiencing a new life. And his generosity is an expression of that. So he
creates an entirely new legacy for himself.

In this stewardship season, with The BIG Event next week and the opportunity
before us to make a pledge of time, talent, and treasure to the church, may we
consider our legacy. What will our giving say about us? Will we give, not until it
hurts, but until it feels good and we are filled with joy? Will our giving show our
legacy of freedom from the lure of wealth and possessions? Will our giving reveal
our acceptance of the transforming love of Jesus in our lives? What will our
legacy be? No matter what has come before, the story of Jesus reaching out to
Zacchaeus shows us it is never too late to change our legacy. As theologian C.S.
Lewis said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where
you are and change the ending.” Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.