by Pastor Vera Guebert-Steward
“…the LORD your God will keep his covenant of unfailing love with you, as he promised with an oath to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you, and he will give you many children. He will give fertility to your land and your animals. When you arrive in the land he swore to give your ancestors, you will have large harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and great herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. 14 You will be blessed above all the nations of the earth.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:12a-14
My grandfather tilled the black, rich earth of southern Illinois in the early years of the 20th century. He was a pig farmer but he also raised crops to feed the animals and his family. He was a product of the great depression but he never lived out of the fear of not having enough. His farm and family were prosperous. I remember helping him when I was quite young. We’d sing as we fed the hogs and rode the tractor together. Bringing in the Sheaves was one of our hot numbers as we spent long yet fun hours working together.
Red Bud, Illinois and the memories I hold of that place flood my soul every year at harvest. Blessed thoughts of my “Pop” as we called him, fill my heart and life and I am reminded of God’s gracious abundance and many gifts. The author of Deuteronomy reminds us that God’s love is unfailing and God’s blessings are lavish indeed. God showered the Israelites with fertile land and animals and great harvests of grain, new wine and olive oil. Oh my, such decadent gifts from a gracious God!
For months now, an excited and dedicated group of members of Evergreen Lutheran have been meeting about a new program entitled: “Stewardship for all Seasons.” Led by Larry Patella, this group has prayerfully discerned possible ministry initiatives for ELC and then creatively fashioned a ministry spending plan that will challenge us, but more importantly, bless us long into ELC’s future. And what a glorious future this church has!
While other churches are dying, this church is thriving. And you are the reason why. How you honor the harvest and bring in the sheaves is precisely why we are on the move! In 1874 Knowles Shaw wrote: “Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves; …”
On November 12, my first Sunday back in the saddle at ELC, you and I will have the opportunity at one service at 9 a.m. to return thanks to God by “bringing in the sheaves” and offering a harvest of thanks for life, good health, this church and her ministry and God’s amazing abundance. You will be asked to bring your intentional promise for the building up of the body of Christ and the ministries this church is dreaming to employ. What you offer that day in terms of your commitment and promise of support will empower lives and change them, too. So many people will be blessed by our collective ministry. So many people will be touched by our love.
Please prayerfully consider your response to the SAS team’s invitation to stretch your budget and offer your wealth of time, talent and treasure for the sake of the Gospel and the ministries of the church you love so much. I look forward to being with you again November 12. I look forward to implementing ministry initiatives for you in the years to come. And on top of it all, I can’t wait to hum the song my Pop and I sang on the tractor…and I can’t wait to hum it with you!