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From Your Pastor…
Each year when Thanksgiving rolls around, I am reminded of an article I read in a small town newspaper long ago. The article looked at the word “Thanksgiving,” pointing out the obvious – that it is a compound word, made up of the two words “thanks” and “giving.” The piece went onto emphasize that one can feel thankful without really doing anything about it. Gratitude can rise up within us at any number of moments, and while gratitude is a good feeling, it doesn’t necessarily accomplish or lead to anything. That is where the “giving” part of Thanksgiving comes in. The unique and beautiful intention behind this holiday is that it is designed to result in giving – in concrete action taken on behalf of the poor and the have-nots. The act of thanksgiving, therefore, has two essential parts: 1) the feeling of gratitude or thankfulness and 2) the giving out of our abundance to those who have less or nothing at all.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving during the Covid-19 pandemic, may we be especially intentional about the second part of Thanksgiving, giving freely, joyfully, and generously, out of our abundance to those who are in need. While being generous is always important, this year it has particular significance and power. In 2020 our generosity might just rekindle another’s faith in the goodness of God and in humanity, something we all so desperately need. Amen.
A Call for Creativity…
As I mentioned last week, it is very easy, as Advent approaches, to focus on all the things we might lose or have to let go of this Advent. Lamenting the losses of our favorite Advent traditions is not the hard work of faith, but the low-hanging fruit of negativity and complaint. What our faith in Jesus calls each of us individually and collectively – as a congregation – to ask is, “What CAN we do this year to make Jesus’s birthday super special and memorable? What CAN we initiate or invent during this Covid Christmas to be a blessing to others?”
Advent and Christmas 2020 are presenting faithful Christians with a huge opportunity to stand up, to stand out, and to stand for a God who is all about making the very most of each new day. There are plenty of Covid Complainers right now. What Christ calls us to, however, is to be Covid Creators, offering the world new rituals, new forms of celebration, new ways of serving those who need it most this holiday season.
I invite you to pray that God would show you one way that you can make someone else’s Christmas one that he/she will never forget. Share your ideas with the church by emailing them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you!
From the Board of Trustees…
The church is now only conducting Sunday church services remotely. The broadcast service states that pledges and financial contributions can be paid thru Breeze by clicking on a screen “button” since there is no personal attendance. However this results in a week delay before the church receives the funds.
Please send your contributions by check to First Congregational Church, 101 State Street, Charlevoix.
As 2020 winds to a close and pledges are becoming paid up in full weekly income declines and timely payment of weekly expenses becomes difficult. Several other forms of payment are being investigated and may become available in the near future.
-John Dixon, Trustees
Stock Gift To The Church…
One thing that is positive this year is that the Corona Virus hasn’t kept many stocks listed on the stock exchanges from having some very nice gains. As you do your year-end financial assessment, if you have appreciated stock, it may be to your advantage to make a stock donation to the church. Sam Supernaw, Jr., a local CPA, put it this way “The donor can donate the appreciated stock, take a charitable contribution deduction for the fair market value on the date of transfer, AND exclude any “unrealized gain” on the appreciated stock from income on their tax return for the year of contribution. It’s a “win/win” for the donor. Also, due to the higher standard deduction for individuals and joint filers, the Qualified Charitable Distributions, can give the donor similar tax benefits when they cannot itemize their deductions and take advantage of the charitable contribution deduction on Schedule A.” This is easy to do and the church is set up to do this. Just contact Chris Gengle at email@example.com to check this out.
Charlevoix Christmas Project (jam/jelly, socks, mittens) – we are still collecting donations! If you would like to drop off your donation, please do so on Mondays during regular office hours. Come to the Park Ave. entrance and ring the doorbell and Leah will come down to collect your donations. If you would prefer to hold onto your donations, please email the office with your plans and we will make arrangements as the collection deadline nears.
** The online photo directory is password protected. The password was included in the original email. If you need it again, please email the office.