It’s hard to believe but we are halfway through the year. Time marches on as they say! I have been thinking a lot about how time passes and how important it is to consider that time is more than what is happening today. We would not be the church we are today if not for the people who came before us. This church will be the church of tomorrow because of who we are today. This past weekend I was reminded of who we are, both as we said goodbye to a dear and honorable man, Ben Liebenthal, and as we baptized and welcomed babies Emerson and Penn as the newest members of God’s family. We embraced the past in Ben’s life journey and how it shaped and influenced his family today and we welcomed home Kiersten with her husband Jeff and celebrated the future of their baby daughters who too are influenced by all of us who were a part of Kiersten’s life as she grew up in this church.

Throughout the weekend I heard several different people share how they find our church to be unique because of the joy that is shared among people, how welcoming we are to others and the generosity of spirit that is evident. And not just in worship, but how we minister to and care for others and how so many cheerfully lend a hand to provide a luncheon for a grieving family or assist someone in need. I heard several comments on how beautiful our sanctuary is and how well our facilities are cared for. And even how nice it is that we were able to gather in comfort on a hot day to say farewell to Ben and to welcome Emerson and Penn. Your generosity extends far and wide both in spirit and tangibly in providing a comfortable space to come home to. There is a proverb, attributed to many sources that says “Blessed is he who plants trees under whose shade he will never sit.” French theologian Hyacinthe Loyson delivered a sermon in Paris in 1866 paraphrasing the proverb: ‘These trees which he plants, and under whose shade he shall never sit, he loves them for themselves, and for the sake of his children and his children’s children, who are to sit beneath the shadow of their spreading boughs.’ What we are doing today prepares the kingdom for everyone who will sit under the shade of our tree for generations to come. We provide shade and sanctuary for the children who joyfully played with Benny and danced for the camera on Saturday. We provide shade and sanctuary for Emerson and Penn who will be welcomed home here even when we are gone.

Because of your generosity, we are nearly finished with improvements and repairs to our whole church, the offices and narthex, the lower level, outside maintenance, the sanctuary and air conditioning that will make it possible for the elderly and people who are heat and humidity sensitive to be present in worship and be enfolded in our fellowship. Our final improvements are in part possible because of people who do not attend here including former members and also community members. First Presbyterian’s presence in this community provides shade for all of God’s people, not just those of us who sit in the pew. We plant and nurture our tree to make this possible. And it’s because of your generosity as you pledge to match the contributions we received that we will realize our goal without incurring debt.

Exciting things are happening! Joy is abundant and the generosity of spirit overflows! I thank God for you as we look forward to August when we will dedicate our pledges that make it possible to provide shade that welcomes all of God’s people to come and find rest for their souls. Thank-you for your faithfulness to be God’s people in this place, to be God’s hands and feet in this community not just today but for generations to come.

Blessings to you and yours!