The View From Here

Plymouth Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Valerie Miller-Coleman's October 2021 reflection.

At lunchtime, I head over to the community rec center up on 11th Street for a strength training class twice a week. I like to tell people I’m going to pump iron. It makes me sound tough. But the truth is, strength training makes me feel like a complete idiot. It’s a great mercy that the fitness studio has no mirrors. I’m in there rolling around on the ground, flinging my arms and legs all over the place, and generally making a fool of myself. The day after class, I can barely stand up. It’s kind of pathetic.


But I keep going back. Fitness class is good for me. I want to be healthy. I walk over to the rec center and subject myself to all kinds of indignities twice a week. Real athletes are different kinds of people from me. But even they have to start somewhere. They train for things. And they set goals. It’s like that with our faith too. We become faithful people by practicing acts of fidelity over time. It’s like weight training, but for your soul.


Between now and Thanksgiving, we’re going to focus on giving as a spiritual practice. Giving is really important to me. It’s one of the best ways I know to build some soul muscles where they tend to get kind of flabby. It takes practice to become a generous person. I know that’s true because I’m not naturally a generous person. But because it’s important to Ben and me, we’ve worked hard at it and made progress. We practice by setting goals and training ourselves to follow through over time. So that’s what we’re going to practice doing together as a congregation over the next several weeks.


The very first line of our Plymouth Covenant says, “In the love of truth and the Spirit of Jesus, we unite for the worship of God and the service of all.” We commit to keeping God at the center of our shared life. That’s not an easy thing to do. If it were, we probably wouldn’t need to keep recommitting ourselves to it in worship every week. Our covenant is ambitious, and it’s a little daunting. Living into it takes practice.


Giving is one of the most powerful ways I know to practice. When we bring God into the center of our monthly budget, something changes. My stuff becomes God’s stuff. The ministries of Plymouth Church become my way of serving the world. Our covenant begins to change me. The more I’m invested in it, the more it strengthens me. I need that strength. I need to feel the strength of our shared commitment to one another and God: making promises and keeping promises, planning for a strong future, and doing the work to get there together.


Our annual appeal begins this month. We are in a strong, debt-free financial position. This is a season of growth. We’re making plans to strengthen the foundation of our shared life with a renewed commitment to Plymouth’s core ministries: soul-stirring music and worship; excellent faith formation for families with children, adults, and youth; small groups that knit our lives together; bold witness for human rights and dignity.


I want you to be part of what God is doing in and through Plymouth Church in a more profound, more powerful way this year. Spend some time talking with God and with the people you love about how giving shapes your life. I would love to be part of that conversation. Let me know if our finance team or I can help you in your discernment. This is sacred work we’re doing together. If we do it faithfully, it might just change our lives.