“Homecoming” is a word you will be hearing a lot in the coming weeks. Not only is it the season of pep rallies, parades, and football games at area schools, but “Homecoming” is also the theme of the Fall Stewardship Appeal at SMLC. Homecoming events are grounded in the fertile history of those who came before us. At a Homecoming, the community gathers not only to remember their legacy but also to support and encourage the “team on the field” right now. Then, behind the bleachers and in the far ends of the field, a new generation of children is already building the future that is to come.

The church community is also experiencing something of a “Homecoming” after several years of disruption. Many hardships still remain, of course, yet as a community of faith we gather to give thanks for the legacy others have left us, to support and encourage the ministries God is creating right now, and to build up this ministry for the generations who come after us.

A letter is coming to you soon, but here is a preview of the game plan:

  1. Mark your calendars for Oct. 16 and 23. You will want to be in worship! Think of those weekends as “Spirit Weeks” to prepare for the big game or the big half-time show! Worship will start in the sanctuary for about 35 minutes and before the final hymn, we will move to the Gathering Place to watch a highlight film and spend about 15 minutes in small groups. It’s a time to connect with others, share a few stories, and hear “scouting reports” about ministry you may not know is happening. Then we will sing a beautiful hymn together, receive a blessing, and finish in about the same time as usual.
  2. The Adult Forums these two weekends will recap all of the accomplishments of the Community of Faith Campaign (which is ending this December) and also focus on the ministry budget for the upcoming year.
  3. Spirit Week also means having fun dressing up! October 15/16 will be “lounge around” weekend. We did this all throughout COVID, so we might as well do it for one worship service. Wear your pajamas, sweatpants, slippers, velour track suites, or whatever is casual and comfortable for you. On October 22/23, wear “fan gear” to support your favorite sports team, music group, artist, video gamer, movie, or other ways to express your fandom. I don’t think there will be any pies in my face this time around, but if we can have a spontaneous parade if you want!
  4. October 29/30 is Reformation weekend and worship will be festive and focus on the free gift of God’s love and favor. We will welcome new members and bless the many quilts sewn for Lutheran World Relief this year. Wear something red since that is the liturgical color of the day.
  5. November 5/6 is All Saints Day worship. On the day we give thanks for those who have gone before us, we bring our own gifts and pledges of support for the ministry that is ahead of us. The need in the world is great but so, too, are the gifts we have been given. As in past years, those who wish to fill out an “Estimate of Giving” card can place it in the church box as an act of worship on that day. We ask God to bless these gifts for ministry here and now, and we look with hope to the true “Homecoming” that is to come for all God’s children.

Stewardship is not fundraising. Say that again out loud! Stewardship is not fundraising. I’m am not asking for your money. The church is not asking for your money. Rather, together we are asking how we can best manage (or steward) the time, talent, and resources God has given us. We are called to be caretakers not only for those we know best but also for others we may never meet at all.

Stewardship flows out of the belief that all things ultimately belong to God. There is joy in living generously because even when such giving asks a sacrifice of some of our comforts and desires, we are helping the whole body of Christ in the world. These last years have been challenging, both personally and for the church. This year is challenging for many as well. Yet over and over again, scripture reminds us to “not be afraid”. God is with us. That’s what Homecoming is all about.