A few weeks ago, a friend gave me a book called “Things to Look Forward To: 52 Large and Small Joys for Today and Everyday” by Sophie Blackall. Sophie is best known for her beautiful children’s books, but this book emerged out of the last several years and the many days where we found ourselves overwhelmed by a global pandemic and the loss of life as we knew it in the before times.
She writes, “No matter how gloomy the clouds…there is always something bright on the horizon – even if we have to squint to see it. Even if we have to create it ourselves.”
So she offers a whole book of these things to ground us in intentional hope. She includes everyday things that buoy our spirits and make us laugh and feel alive: the sun coming up, hugging a friend, discovering a new word, baking something for someone, reading a book, seeing the sea, feeding the birds, collecting pebbles, a cup of coffee. And she is very clear that this is just the beginning, it is not the definitive list. Any of us might have our own things: playing with grandchildren, or planting a garden, for if we view time as a gift, we are less likely to squander it. If we look for beauty, we often find it. If we help our neighbors, it will lift our spirits.
This practice of gratitude is what stewardship is all about, it is a reminder that all we have comes from God and invites us to respond with thanksgiving and give back a portion of what we have been given. This year, our St. Barnabas stewardship theme is a Future with Hope. It comes from the words of the prophet Jeremiah. He is speaking to the people of God, who have been invaded by the Babylonians and forced to live in exile from the land of Israel. They lost everything they loved - their homeland, their places of worship, their way of life. And into this moment, Jeremiah says, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says God, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
For those of us living today, having lived through a global pandemic, social and political upheavals, and other stressors, we too need a message of hope and a promise that God has plans for our well-being and a future with hope.
I feel at St. Barnabas an energy and passion to share God’s love and hope with all people. Not just each other, but those who are hurting in our world, or feel excluded, or are hopeless. How might our community of faith bear witness to God’s promise of a future with hope? How might we through our worship, ministries, and loving community inspire one another to live out this future together?
We gather for worship so that we might be sent out into the world as messengers of hope. It will require additional time, talent, and treasure from our congregation to expand our staff to support our growing, diverse and multi-generational congregation. We have seen amazing growth of new members of all ages. We also are growing in our spiritual life together with new programs and opportunities to share God’s love with our neighbors. Join us in continuing to build God’s dream together at St. Barnabas.
Photos from Things to Look Forward To by Sophie Blackall.