“Stories of Generosity & Joy…
I was surprised and overwhelmed on Sunday morning when Penny Osuga came to the front of church for one final “announcement.” She told the congregation that it was “Pastor Appreciation Sunday,” and then explained that dozens of members and friends submitted words of appreciation for me, including some of our “snow angels” from as far away as New Hampshire! Expressions of appreciation were read, lei were placed around my neck, then Rose danced a beautiful hula while Doug sang “You Are My Strength.” By the end of all the expressions of appreciation, my eyes were moist with tears of gratitude, not only for the appreciation that was shown to me but also for the opportunity to minister alongside and among such a loving, generous and joyful congregation. Thanks to each and every person who makes Kōloa Union Church what it is, for we are a special church where every person can come and know that she or he is loved unconditionally and offered opportunities to participate in and share that love with one another and the world around us.
My message was about the stories we tell which are so very important to our lives and our communities. I shared about the Mokihana Festival, which I attended just a couple of weeks ago, and how the songs, chants, dances and even the implements all told stories about these islands and the people who have lived here for hundreds of years. I also talked about how the kupuna, or elders, in Hawaiian culture passed down the important stories from one generation to another. I also shared a story from 2 Corinthians, chapter 8, where the Apostle Paul told a story to the Christians in Corinth about the Christians living in Macedonia. It was a deeply personal story about the Macedonians’ exceptional generosity in the midst of extreme pain and poverty. Paul wrote that they “gave themselves first to the Lord,” and they also gave generously to the spreading of the good news of Jesus through Paul’s mission. By giving themselves first to the Lord, they recognized that everything belongs to God in the first place; they are simply stewards of their lives and the things God puts them in charge of for a short while. It was this recognition that allowed them to be so generous and to give with such joy. I challenged each person to consider if they had given themselves “first to the Lord,” and to think of any part of their lives that they might be holding back from God; for the greatest joy I know about in this life comes from giving oneself completely to God.
Joni Ito then shared an inspirational testimony about how much Kōloa Union Church means to her, what it meant growing up in the church, how much people generously gave of themselves in the past, and how her children now are benefitting from being a part of our congregation.
This coming Sunday, we will all have an opportunity to generously express our gratitude to God as we commit ourselves financially to our church’s mission in the upcoming year. All of our members and regular attendees should have received a letter and commitment card in the mail by now. I ask that you prayerfully consider what a meaningful and joyful amount looks like for you in terms of your giving to next year’s general fund. In the following weeks, our Church Council will create a budget based upon all of our generous gifts.
Click HERE to see Sunday’s message by Kahu Akana. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.