I started writing this post just moments after we finished serving our very first pancake lunch of the new school year to more than 140 very grateful Hampton High School students. Every plate of food we dished out was received with an enthusiastic “thank you!” from each and every one of the students. I was struck, today, by how clearly the simple expressions of gratitude from those students in turn fed the enthusiasm and devotion shown by our volunteers. It’s such a clear example of how generosity inspires gratitude and how that gratitude inspires still more generosity, and on and on it goes.
The lunches served out of St. Paul’s every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month to the students of Hampton High School are just one example of the many ways in which our parish continues to be blessed by this cycle of generosity and gratitude. At the heart of it all, however, and what I believe drives it all, is God’s generosity towards each of us.
In my experience, the greatest demonstrations of generosity among Christian people are motivated by a profound sense of gratitude towards God. None of the people that I have known with this sense gratitude has lived a perfect life. In fact, many of them have experienced more than their fair share of suffering. Yet they’ve all come to possess a deep sense that every good thing that has come to them in life has come to them graciously and freely from God. I’ve noticed too that whatever stage of life these grateful and generous people may be in, they all seem to believe that they have only just begun to experience the goodness that God has instore for them, in this life and the next.
In short, the most generous people that I have come to know (those whose generosity has challenged and inspired me the most) have also been the most grateful. They are deeply rooted in the cycle of gratitude and grace. They are generous because they are thankful, and they are thankful because they believe God has given them and has promised them far more than they could have asked for or imagined.
In this season of giving thanks I pray that we would all find ourselves fully surrounded by the cycle of gratitude and grace. I pray that you would know God’s generosity and goodness towards you, and that knowing his goodness you would not only be surrounded but filled with generosity and thanksgiving.
Rev. David Turner +
Our regular Sunday morning worship times are
8:45am and 10:30am
with Children’s Program during the 10:30 am service
One of the great things about radio and podcasts is that you can listen to them and learn about any number of a million different things while at the very same time doing any number of a million other things. For example, as you drive to work in the morning you can turn on the radio and learn about all kinds of things that are happening in your town or around the world, but you can’t drive to work and read the paper. And while it would be extremely awkward to try to exercise or fold the laundry while watching a documentary film or attending a public lecture you can put on a podcast and listen comfortably as you complete any number of your daily tasks.
But there is one thing that we will never be able to do and at the same time still be able to truly listen. We will never be able to speak and listen at the same time.
Not even simultaneous interpreters (you know, the people who translate at super important multilingual events like the United Nations) are able to speak without first listening. It seems like they are speaking and listening at the same time, but really what they have learned to do is to be extra quick to listen, and most of their training is centered not on speaking but on practicing extremely focused listening.
One of the ironies of Christianity is that the most famous Christians tend to be Christian speakers, teachers and preachers. This is ironic because what we see emphasized in the teaching of the New Testament is that the practice of listening should be of far greater value and should be far more celebrated among followers of Jesus than speaking. It’s as we listen to God’s word, to the gospel, to the teachings of Jesus, and to the leading of the Spirit that our lives are transformed and we become more and more like Jesus. Good preaching and teaching are invaluable to the life and mission of the Church, but without good listening (on the part of preachers and teachers in particular) no amount of preaching or teaching will help us. Listening must come first.
I hope you can join us as we gather this Sunday not only to sing God’s praises and to offer our prayers but, first and foremost, to practice listening together, not to the music or even the preacher but to God. And I hope that you will pray for all the preachers and teachers and for the worship leaders who will be preaching and teaching and leading this Sunday. Please pray that as they prepare to preach and to sing and to lead the prayers and to read the scriptures that they would be quick to listen and that they would continue listening so that on Sunday God is the one who is ultimately heard.
As school begins so does our regular routine! Check the Newsletter below for upcoming events happening this fall!
The world is in desperate need of more love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more faithfulness, more gentleness, and more self-control. But where are these going to come from?
This summer at St. Paul’s we are exploring what Galatians 5:22 calls “The Fruit of the Spirit,” and looking in detail at the kind of spiritual growth that makes more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control possible. Our hope is that we’ll not only grow in our understanding of how genuine spiritual growth works but that, in the process, we’ll get to experience that growth for ourselves.
I hope you’re able to join us this summer as we learn what it takes to:
* And Get a handle on Self-Control (Aug. 19).
Rev. David Turner+