I was baptized Catholic, but grew up in a nominally Christian home in Redding, California. Even though Christ was not a steady part of my upbringing, I always searched for a power, a holiness greater than myself. I ventured far in search of God’s true holiness. Thanks be to God for His gracious, caring people in my life. Starting with the strong faith of my wife, Pamela, and many others, eventually Christ called me home to Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rocklin.
This congregation is the place where my life in Christ truly began and continues to this day. You all have had a steady, strong influence over me. In your compassion, your gracious way of dealing with each other, and your generous hearts, you are Christ’s face to me every day. I and those in my household receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation through the ministry that you support here at Holy Cross. What better gift could you all give to me and to those I love most!
In the small and the great, your generosity simply awes me. It’s in the simple giving hearts of the Peperkorn children, who when they heard that Deaconess Pamela was collecting money for water filters for families in Africa, decided to “Make Change for Kenya!” And you all took that idea and have given so generously. Out of simple jars of coins, over the past years, you have raised upwards of $5,000 for Kenya. Closer to home, you have supported the congregation, too. Recently, when it became necessary to do roof maintenance for the church, you all came through with over $75,000 to start bids on the roof work.
You are all generous with your time and talents. From an abundance of musical talent, the most amazing music comes out of this congregation every week. I look forward to each Sunday in part for the music. In gifts of time, you continue to help during work days at the property, most recently painting the sanctuary and the re-beautifying of our worship space. That effort alone has helped to revitalize our worship and created a desire to do even more.
I admire the day-in and day-out behind-the-scenes work that many of you do each week to make our worship and study possible: preparing Sunday school and Bible Study lessons, providing fellowship meals and snacks, cleaning up after worship and fellowship, ushering, altar preparation, secretarial work, bookkeeping, counting offerings, providing mid-week meals during our penitential seasons, visitation of the sick and homebound, praying for one-another. You all know who you are!
You, my dear brothers and sisters, have lived out for me what Christ preached in the Beatitudes:
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” - Luke 6:38
Generosity. You can’t “out-give” God. Holy Cross has taught me that generosity is a ministry of Christ: generous forgiveness, generous spirits, generous givers. Through you, Christ will always be more generous to me and my family than I ever will be to this church and to others. I will continue to learn from you all what it means to be generous and I look forward to what we can accomplish together during the Living as the Body of Christ Campaign.
Whatever we may sacrifice to bring down our debt, do necessary maintenance on our property and finish building out the preschool building, God will always bless our efforts with His generous heart. And you my brothers and sisters will always be His face in that effort.