Purple Advent Candle

WEEKLY REFLECTION | December 10, 2023 – Second Sunday of Advent

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning, Dodd and I spent a couple of hours working on the liturgies and music choices from Christmas Eve through the last part of Epiphany. It’s an odd, time-travel kind of feeling. We are still in the first week of Advent and already my mind is humming the music we’ll be singing at the end of February. Some of those hymns invade my imagination and turn into lovely and most-welcome earworms! This is a time of waiting for the wonderful services to take place: the candlelight of Christmas Eve, the fun of Epiphany Lessons and Carols, the stories of God–through Jesus–calling and calling and calling people—and us! Isn’t that what Advent’s about? A hinge period, when we look gratefully to the salvation that
came to us in the past, try our best to live following the model that Jesus set for us, and look forward with delighted anticipation to the return of the long-awaited One.

This week, I am attaching Dodd’s reflection from last Sunday, for those who want to re-read it. Stay tuned for some more of the story…how he got here. It’s all God’s fault! Another thing to anticipate for the future.

Mo. Laura+


Dodd Lamberton’s Stewardship Reflection
As organist/pianist here at St. Margaret’s I usually talk with you about music, but today I’d like to talk to you today about money, how the relative lack of it played a big role in my family growing up, and yet — through my working life to the present day, it has become an important component of my faith in God and what it means to be a good steward.

Both of my parents grew up scarred by the Great Depression, which resulted in their anxiety about money. As my sister and I grew up, money was never talked about but somehow we knew there wasn’t much of it for anything but the basics of daily living. That anxiety about money made its way into my sister’s and my decision-making – our purchases had to be economical… Buy clothes full-price? No, only when they’re on sale… Go out to eat? No, it’s cheaper to cook at home.

But God has a way of softening fear and anxiety. The year, 1979. Myrna and I had been married four years, our daughter Ainsley was two months old. I had finished my basic theological education at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, and my initial interview for a first call in Upstate New York had gone well, and we flew out to Elmira to look for housing. We had been in a home of our own for five years, so we wanted (if possible) to buy a home in Elmira, to settle into the community, but that year – some of you may remember – inflation was out of control, interest rates were sky-high: 13%, and many banks were not offering home mortgages, even at that rate.

Our realtor helped us find a house, and we made a contingent offer – but the realtor, even working her contacts with local bankers, was doubtful that we could get a mortgage. But the homeowner, Ms. Kramer, must have heard about our dilemma, and told us, “Our mortgage is assumable, at 8% interest,” (which meant that if we could pay her and her husband the difference between our purchase offer and what they still owed the bank, we could have the house and take over their mortgage loan).

Our realtor, full of doubt, drove with me to Elmira Savings Bank, where the lending officer brought out the original mortgage paperwork – and sure enough, we were able to assume the 8% mortgage and get a bridge loan to pay off the Kramers till our Minnesota home sold a couple months later.

A long story – but underneath, I heard God saying to us, “Don’t worry – I got this.” And my faith in God’s provision began to deepen, my anxiety about having enough money began to diminish, and we were able to grow in our own stewardship giving to that congregation, as well as the other two churches I served, one in Pottstown, the other back home in Minneapolis.

The spiritual writer Paula D’Arcy says that ‘God comes to you disguised as your life.’ Over 35 years of pastoral ministry, I saw God showing up in parishioners’ lives, and in our family’s life. We continue to experience that in retirement, moving back to the Lehigh Valley to be near our adult children and grandkids. God shows up, ‘disguised as our lives,’ and when we are able to trust the Lord with our concerns, our fears, our anxieties, God leans in close and whispers, “Don’t worry – I got this.”

And we have learned that when we share our financial resources (as well as time and talent) with church and charity, we discover the joy of giving from the heart. It’s why Connie Allport and the Stewardship Committee so colorfully designed their page of reflection that was mailed to members along with an Estimate of Giving form for 2024: “The Heart of the Giver: Blessed. Gratitude. Abundance.”

May those qualities fill us this first day of Advent and through the coming year, as we live
and learn, worship and serve together as the Body of Christ, Amen.

Coming Up

  • December 24, 9:00 a.m. Fourth Sunday of Advent, Holy Eucharist
  • December 24, 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
  • December 25, 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day Service