One of my favorite hymns is not a particularly well-known hymn. It is familiar to most, but not one that you often hear people identify among their top ten. It is the hymn, I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord. It was written by Timothy Dwight back in 1801 and speaks to the deep love he had for God’s Church.
The second verse of that hymn speaks to that love directly. It goes like this…
I love thy church, O God!
Her walls before thee stand
dear as the apple of thine eye,
and graven on thy hand.
Part of the reason I love that hymn so much is because it gives expression to my own love of the Church. When I look back on my life, I have been blessed by the Church in so many ways I can’t even begin to count. It was through the Church that I was introduced to Jesus Christ. My wife and I married at the altar of the Church. It was in the Church that my children and grandchildren were baptized. When both my parents and Carol’s parents died, the Church was there to grieve with us and remind us that death is not the final word. Last year, when my granddaughter was so sick for so many months, the Church prayed for her…and for us! As I say, I can’t begin to count the blessings that have been mine because of the Church.
When I think of the larger society, I can’t imagine what the world would be without the Church. The Church stands as a symbol of the highest ideals of humanity, and calls out the best in people. Yet, when people fail, as we all do at one time or another, the Church is quick to offer forgiveness, grace, and a new start. How many people who have been broken by life might have been lost but for the redeeming message that the Church dares to declare.
I raise all of this because I find that one of the greatest joys of my life is to have the opportunity to give back to the Church for all that the Church has done for me. Yes, I tithe to the Church because Christ calls us to do so and my life has been made more complete by giving out of the abundance that Christ has given to me. I also give to the Church because I know that what I give to the Church makes a difference in people’s lives and through those lives my gift extends to places and people I will never know.
As you know, we are two Sundays away from completing our 2018 Annual Campaign. When we turn in an Estimate of Giving card for 2018, we are helping to ensure that the ministries of this Church remain strong and we make it possible for Dunwoody United Methodist Church to move forward together. I urge you to complete and turn in your Estimate of Giving card in the next few days. Remember the budget and ministries of this Church depend on it.
See you Sunday, if not before!