Sermon 181021 For Such a Time as This - Pledge Sunday

"Dumbarton: For Such a Time as This" Dumbarton UMC, Pledge Sunday

Often, we, United Methodists roll our eyes about our Book of Discipline. And there are absolutely parts of the Book of Discipline that need to be removed for there to be full inclusion in this denomination. But, I have also found that there are some beautiful passages in the Book of Discipline — words that really do capture something powerful about what it means to be the church. Such is the case with the passage that was shared this morning — did you catch those words? Were you inspired? I find them to be a good reminder of what we as a United Methodist congregation are to be up to in the world — the ministry of outreaching love. We are to be reaching out in love — with compassion and with grace.

And if there was ever a time that needs as many as possible reaching out in ministries of love it is a time such as this. As you make your stewardship pledge to Dumbarton for 2019, I ask you to consider how important this congregation is for this time. To remember the many ways we share a common life of gratitude & devotion, witness & service, celebration & discipleship.

We are grateful for this time and this place to gather every week with others who journey in faith, wrestle with faith, abide in faith. We seek to devote our lives to following the example of Jesus seeking to love all, build peace, and work for justice. We give witness to our faith when we join marches and demonstrations calling for equality, compassion, and justice. We witness to our children the value of a faith community when we are reliable in our attendance. We serve in myriad ways — we serve within the congregation by our participation and by taking our turn with being second adult for youth and children activities, being a reader, serving coffee hour, being a greeter, and all kinds of other ways as well. We serve in the wider community and world when we partner with Mt. Zion to feed our unhoused neighbors, when we serve meals for the Georgetown Ministry Center's winter shelter, when we provide space for AA meetings every day of the week, every day of the year, when a couple dozen of us attend General Conference as observers and advocates. And many, many Dumbartonians serve in the community and world through vocations and avocations and this community encourages and supports each one in their daily ways of making a difference in the world. Dumbarton celebrates — we celebrate communion and baptism, we celebrate creation and anniversaries of sobriety, we celebrate weddings for all couples — gay and straight. We celebrate good news that is shared. As for discipleship, when we are at our best, we are encouraging one another to be our best selves, to embody more faithfully love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

And now, more than ever, we need each other, we need Dumbarton.

When Esther was queen, it was not widely known that she was one of the Hebrew people. When the Hebrew people were threatened with genocide, Esther's Uncle Mordecai sent her word that she needed to use her position as queen to save her people. Esther was not convinced that her position had much power and knew that what Mordecai was asking could result in the king becoming angry with her or even having her killed. Mordecai's reply to Esther when she raised these concerns was "who know but what you are queen for just such a time as this." Esther was swayed by those words, and after days of prayer and preparation, she did risk seeking out the king uninvited and eventually saved her people from destruction.

The phrase "For Such a Time as This" has taken on a life of its own beyond Esther's story and down through the ages. When the Stewardship committee met to plan for this year's program, Justice suggested working with the theme of "For Such a Time as This" and it immediately resonated with all of us on the committee.

With all that is happening in our government and society, we need Dumbarton for such a time as this — we need this place to gather with people who share our values and our commitments, we need each other for encouragement during these difficult times. We need opportunities to express our concerns, opportunities to work for transformation, chances to make a difference together. We need times with people we trust to understand our worries and fears. We need people to remind us that there is far more to life than the 24 tweet cycle.

With all that is happening in the denomination, we need Dumbarton for just such a time as this. You know, I know, we know that God calls us to be welcoming and fully inclusive of all God's beloved children — including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks. God loves everybody just as they are and we do too. Dumbarton stands in an important place of being able to witness to the fact that we have more than 3 decades of living into full inclusion of LGBTQ people and we have found our congregation blessed and enriched by the presence, leadership, ministry, and marriages of LGBTQ people in our congregation. In a time when most congregations are rapidly dwindling, Dumbarton is stable, intergenerational, vibrant, and vital. I am convinced that our commitment to inclusion is a strong factor in our overall congregational health.

For such a time as this — well really for all times — Dumbarton is needed for our youth and children. We provide safe place for youth and children to be accepted as they are. We seek to teach values of acceptance, understanding, justice, peace-making, non-violence, inclusion, equality. We teach how faith can inform daily life, that questions are welcome, that community is important.

For such a time as this — we need Dumbarton for our souls. We need each other. We need prayer and singing and communion. We need the words of Scripture, the example of the saints — like Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. We need the Psalms which provide a place for lament as well as a place for celebration. We need this community to keep hope alive. So many of you have said to me at different times, I just needed to be with my Dumbarton family this week. For such a time as this.

For such a time as this, I need Dumbarton and I will pledge my financial support of our ministries because...

For such a time as this, I need a bench in the sun by purple doors.

For such a time as this, I need a reconciling congregation who embraces marriage equality and full inclusion.

For such a time as this, I need Adara and Lev running around chuckling during coffee hour

For such a time as this, I need Dumbartonians who will carry banners and march for ending racism or welcoming refugees or caring for creation or ending gun violence or justice for Palestinians

For such a time as this, I need Ursala's gentle reminder that she prays for me every day

For such a time as this, I need young adults who let me tag along to lunch sometimes

For such a time as this, I need the circle we form when we celebrate communion, those moments of standing together, singing together, where we push back the darkness just a little and it is enough, it is enough, for such a time as this. Thanks be.

Rev. Dr. Mary Kay Totty October 21, 2018

Scripture: 

Esther 4:12-14 - "...for a time such as this..."