Why We Keep the Lights On

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November 2018

 

It is fall. We’ve set our clocks back. The days get dark early. That’s not a problem if you need something at Galilee. We improved the lighting in our parking lot recently, and the lights in the church stay on as long as they’re needed.
 
That isn’t cheap. It costs a lot of money to run those lights, and the heat, and the utilities and maintenance associated with a great building like ours. So why do we do it? Is there an upside to paying these bills, let alone the mortgage, or the office staff?
 
You bet there’s an upside.
 

Galilee’s lights seen from our Eagle Scout-constructed firepit at last year’s Friendsgiving youth event.

 

The upside has a boring name in our budget: general church operations. That means keeping our lights on and our doors open, 365 days a year. Look who we touch when we do that:
  • The family who tells us that a child, parent, or sibling has died and wants to hold a funeral. Maybe they haven’t been in our sanctuary in years. Maybe they’ve never been here. But to them, at this desperate hour, Galilee is their church. We don’t charge them a dime. We provide food for the reception, if necessary. To a grieving family, we show love.
  • The children learning about faith every Sunday morning with Bri Jones and her team. Oh, the supply costs! It might look like our Sunday school deals in glitter and paper plates and modeling clay…but it doesn’t. It’s about teaching God’s love, and the children get it. They talk about it at the dinner table and know they are loved by so many people.
  • The alcoholic man, the addicted couple, the woman barely holding it together, who meet every day in our rooms to support one another in recovery. What do our lights mean to them? Just a place where they can receive the grace they need to be with their families, hold down a job, rebuild their lives. How many souls have been saved in that battered original sanctuary over the last 55 years? If they could be counted, it’d be hundreds. Thousands?
  • The teenagers who meet at Youth Group. What are they doing when they get together with church friends, except building a community in Christ? They speak life into prayer for their friends and their families. Our building is a bright, warm, safe place for teens to ask, “Can you walk with me through this…because I’m not sure I can do it by myself.”
  • The friends who find purpose and fellowship in using their gifts. The ringers of handbells, the singers with sheet music, the musicians with instruments that need tuning—all these talented people with their “stuff,” this ordinary, material stuff, that we turn to a higher purpose when we worship God. The stuff has a home here. These people have a home here.
  • The women of the Altar Guild, who dust and decorate our sanctuary, water plants and flowers, stock our pew racks with donation envelopes, tissues, pencils, and “Scribble Sheets for Little United Methodists.” These are the beloved women who bring the communion elements for worship. They bake our bread, but it’s here—in this building—that they find it made into the body of Christ.
  • Voters! You might have visited Galilee last Tuesday, because we’re a polling place. We are the place the community comes to exercise their right to BE a community.
  • The voice on the other end of the phone (phones cost money) that tells our secretary, “I’m in the hospital and I have no one else. Can you feed my dog?”
  • The athletes who use our gym for volleyball, soccer, basketball, pickleball, even cricket. Our building held a sports camp this summer to disciple the next generation of Christians.  Some 4 year old attendees were later spotted at a nearby Costco screaming, “THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS!” We’re not recommending screaming, but they learned that at Galilee.  
  • The Scouts who meet each week and who learn about faith by walking in faith and duty together.
  • The Iranian immigrant who came from off the street and asked, “Can I pray in your sanctuary for a minute?” YES, YES YOU CAN. Because the roof was repaired and it’s not leaking. Because the cleaners cleaned it last week. Because the electricity and the heat are turned on. In the name of Jesus, YES – come in.

Your church has needs. You heard about those financial needs last week at the Galilee Town Hall and you’ll hear about them throughout the month as we talk about generosity and gratitude in our worship series, “The Treasure Principle.” We want you to donate to our general church operations so that we can keep the lights on.

But guess what? Money isn’t “the need.” It’s a solution. The needs are what show up at our door every day. The grieving family, the friends in fellowship, the troubled teenager, the praying stranger, the lonely soul, the soul needing Christ.
 
It’s our lights they see, and it’s God’s light they need. That’s why we keep the lights on.