That is an interesting phrase, “Endings and Beginnings.” We are most use to hearing the opposite of “Beginnings and Endings”. As an example, we were just recently inundated with the concepts of beginnings with “New Year Resolutions,” with have you made yours, what will they be and how will you live into this New Year and will you be able to keep these new promises to yourself and to others? It’s not a bad way to start a year, but I think it is a finite promise to ourselves when we should all be looking at infinite possibilities. We limit ourselves when we say we only want to do this or that, and that is enough.
You see, I believe we should all be looking differently at the start of a new year or especially in the start of each new day. I believe we should look not at where it will end, limiting our possibilities, but at the grandness of infinite, unlimited possibilities, for with God “all things are possible.” The day is yours, dream and do with it as you want.
I like to think of St. Martin’s in that framework. Where can we go from here, how high can we reach and how welcoming to the whole world of possibilities will we allow ourselves? I would love to answer that question, stand up and shout to the world this is who we are and this is where we are going, but it is not up to me—that’s your blessing to answer, and I have no doubt you will answer it wonderfully well, as you have for the last nearly eight years I have been walking along side you. It all began that January 14, 2007 at your annual meeting—a cold, snowy day—and I’ve enjoyed each step we have taken. The good news is we have many more miles to cover, and I look forward to each one.
Before we start the next step, the next mile, however, we should take a moment to reflect on some of our ‘Endings’. This past year we have lost a beloved member of our church family in the death of Mary Louise Gradwohl. Mary Louise, like several before her, was a pillar of our community. There was hardly a Sunday or a midweek gathering that she missed from long before I came. She was a gentle lady from an era long since passed, and we are all the less without her. I still stand there looking out at the congregation and seeing Mary Louise, Roz Valentine and Lois Townsend sitting in their cherished seats, as beacons of the light of Christ to the world. I miss them, we all do.
As we get to say goodbye with our endings, we also get to say hi to our beginnings and welcome them into our lives today, and into an unlimited future. By reversing the order in “Endings and Beginnings,” we put the past to rest and we open ourselves up to an unlimited and yet unframed future possibilities. One of the greatest is the continuing growth of our community. We have experience a steady yearly growth factor of nearly 10% for the past seven plus years, with no end in sight.
Additionally, we have grown our ministry plans and capabilities with a steady growth of mission dollars. This past year’s results are nearly shocking. First in what we accomplished last year. We had forecasted a deficit budget of just over $16,000.00, spent an additional unplanned repair cost of $16,500.00 on the parking lot, and ended with a deficit of only $500.00. With God, all things are possible. Secondly, our season of stewardship has every indication of repeating the mission plan possibilities of last year. As a whole, our church family has stepped up to fully funding the mission of God’s work again this year.
As we view a great ‘ending’ to last year’s financial struggles, we are blessed with an unlimited (nearly) opportunity for the year ahead. I say nearly unlimited in that we have “estimates of giving” to nearly match our forecasted needs, but the future does not stop with forecasts. Our future is only limited by the limits we impose on ourselves. With God, all things are possible.
More than what we accomplished by finances was the incredible jobs performed and completed by a whole host of volunteers. No church is run on finances, but on the work of the disciples carrying out God’s work in the world. And let me tell you, gladly, we have a great bunch of people who have given of their time and talents to make it all work, and work well. This is your church and you have treated it well with love and care, and it shows—thank you!!! The entire family of St. Martin’s is one of welcome and of love. You should be proud of yourselves, you’re doing it right.
What I see with the family at St. Martin’s is not this program or that, these spending needs or those, growth by this percentage or that, but an unlimited possibility in that as a fully functioning parish within the Diocese of Colorado, and of God’s desires for any church family, the ability to do whatever it is you want to see happen. This church, this church family, has, at its hands, all the possibilities and future you or God could want or desire. What I would love to see, what I hope you would want to see, is to burst forth, even more, in love and ministry to the world. We have arrived where we had hoped and planned for, now take the ball and run with—it’s a New Beginning!