People of HW!Â
Last Spring, we gathered for the first annual Blessing of the Bicycles. On an overcast Saturday in May, we invited friends and neighbors to meet at a local park. We offered free bike tune-ups and inspections. The whole group gathered in a circle for a prayer litany. We doused one another and our bikes with incense. During the blessing, a few kids sprinkled us with waterâ€”reminding us of our baptisms. Then we ate cookies.
A month later, we gathered on another overcast Saturday and worked on five homes in the neighborhood. This event, called Summer Homework, allowed us to remember what it means to be church. Most importantly, new relationships were formed over coffee, shoveling mud and painting.
A couple weeks after Summer Homework wrapped up, we invited a three-block radius to gather for our annual ice cream social. Amazing things happen when you meet over large pails of mediocre ice cream. One person commented that the neighborhood feels safer than it did five years ago, â€œDue to things like this ice cream social and National Night Out.â€ A week later, we had a second ice cream social four blocks over.
Then, things got wild. Every Wednesday in August, our Wild Wednesday high school/college-age leaders rounded up the the kids and adults and there was pottery, tie-dying, jump roping, garbage pick-upping, singing, painting, juggling. This whole wild endeavor consumed 248 hotdogs. 248 hotdogs....were placed on buns...were doused with ketchup and mustard and relish and jalapeÃ±os...were lifted to mouths...and as awkward small talk gave way to real conversation...community was formed.
Of course, there were things we sucked at and opportunities we missed. But, what kind of foolish pastor would highlight those in a letter that ends with an invitation to give money to HW? I wasn't born yesterday.
So, here at the facts: We have an annual operating budget of $54, 575 (this is what it costs to run HW for one year). We have three sources of income: 1. The ELCA (our large church body), 2. Partner Congregations (other churches who help us out financially) and 3. Worship Offering (what gets put into the orange watering can on Sundays). In 2010, we will receive a total of $28,000 from the ELCA and need $26, 575 from Partner Congregations and Worship Offering. I imagine that might sound sort of scary. However, our attendance and giving has increased significantly every month. We are a generous crowd.
Think about what sort of weekly financial commitment you can make to HW. Pray about it. Come up with a number ($1? 10? $20? $50? $100?) that fills you with joy. We aren't interested in offering given out of guilt or shame, but out of joy and freedom. On Sunday, September 26, come to worship. During the offering, we will have pledge cards where you are invited to write that number down. After worship, we will tally our commitments and register them on our Hotdog Meter O' Giving.
As humans, we are created with a need to give. We need to feel as if we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and that we are making a difference. God is moving in this little corner of the world-and we are just delighted that you are a part of it.