Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker • Pastor

Several decades ago, the British writer and lecturer C.S. Lewis was asked to speak on the subject of Christian stewardship. He began with these words: “On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him.” I feel that way, too. Sometimes it is much easier, and safer, just to skirt around the whole subject of stewardship, of how we give shape and substance to our love for God.

We may choose to skirt the subject entirely, but the fact remains that stewardship is the way we define our faith and make it personal. It’s how faith becomes concrete — a part of our lives, not just a feeling we have or something we say.

I believe our faith is shaped by our experiences of grace and gratitude, which is why our stewardship and sermon theme this fall is “Growing in Grace and Gratitude.”

We all know the benefits of grace. Grace is a gift, an undeserved, sometimes even unasked for gift. Grace connects us with God. Grace gives us new life. Grace gives us a second chance. Grace welcomes us into the family of God. Grace is being welcomed in love. We all need grace in our lives. We need God’s grace and we need the grace offered by one another: the grace of relationships. Growing in grace is growing in love, life, and wholeness. We know we need grace.

But do we know we need gratitude? A research study done about ten years ago reported the shocking news that those who live from a posture of abundance and gratitude live happier, statistically longer lives. Gratitude makes us happy, deeply happy. Gratitude connects us to other people. Gratitude connects us with God and, in itself, makes us better stewards of all that we have and of this planet on which we live.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll hear stories of grace and gratitude from Scripture and from each other. We’ll be reminded of the power of God’s grace in our lives and what gratitude looks like. We’ll celebrate how God’s grace has been manifested through the ministry of Derry Church. We’ll show our gratitude through our financial gifts, to ensure God’s grace touches people’s lives for generations to come.

We grow in grace and gratitude as we proclaim God’s word, share God’s love, and practice God’s justice. And this year, our giving needs to grow in order for the ministry of this community of faith to flourish. Growth in giving is a sign of a spiritually healthy church. I encourage you to prayerfully consider how you can grow in your giving and your involvement at Derry, because your investment here can have a life-changing impact — not only for you and for our church, but for our community and the world.

Derry is an amazing faith community. It’s a place where I have grown in grace and gratitude, and I hope you have, too. Together we can show our gratitude with more than words. Let’s ensure that Derry Church continues to be a place to worship, serve, and belong for at least another 300 years.