Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish.” Ecclesiastes 2:18

Both vaccinated, we hugged before the worship service started. I knew that the previous weeks had been filled with trauma and loss. We shared a hug, it may have seemed pandemically unwise, but at the time it seemed as necessary as breathing. We shared a hug, we shared grief. Caring for a mother whose health is failing is one thing, but having to bury a brother with little notice is a “horse of a different color.”

It fell to her to inform an aged mother of her son’s death; it fell to her to clean out her brother’s house and to dispose of his things. We hugged before church and we shared grief. Then she said, “His life ended up in a dumpster. Everything he had and cared about ended up at the Thrift Store or in a dumpster.”

My mind flashed back to the piles of papers, photos, and keepsakes that I had discarded when settling estates. I remembered the pain of throwing away marriage licenses and college diplomas. My mind flashed back; I was 10 years old, at a Friday night fish fry with my parents and grandparents. The juke box played a new song by Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is?” The song, from 1969, is a rather dark philosophical look at life. It reflects the reality that life is not easy, relationships do not last, and sometimes much anticipated events leave us saying, “Is that all there is?” If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing.” I was 10 years old and that song has haunted me ever since.

“His life, everything in his life, ended up in a dumpster.” The collections and curios, the furniture and the photos, even the awards, trophies, and diplomas end up in a dumpster. You could say that this is a dark rendering of the human condition, or you could say “Is that all there is?”

Contrast “life in a dumpster” with “touching the future” through the TLC Endowment. The Endowment Committee and the TLC Scholarship Committee have done their good work. Consequently, it is my pleasure and privilege to announce that in the Fall TLC will be going to college alongside of 33 Whidbey Island students. In the 2021-2022 school year TLC will be awarding $193,400 in scholarships. $77,400 will be awarded to TLC students and $116,000 will be awarded to non-TLC students. How is it possible that our church will give away more scholarship money than all the other local churches, foundations, and service clubs combined? It is possible because of the generosity of our donors. Our donors have made the choice to “touch the future,” by investing in our Endowment. The Endowment receives estate gifts, but others decide to “touch the future” while they are living. We regularly receive Endowment gifts of $30 or $100. It all adds up and it all makes a difference; the money pays dividends every year and none of it ends up in the dumpster.

Felicia and I have been more intentional about decluttering our house and our lives. We realize that when we are gone, our possessions will be of little interest to our children or grandchildren. We are hoping that they won’t need a dumpster to clean up after us, but we have also decided to “touch the future” by making a gift that will continue to give long after we are gone.

Don’t let our lives be defined by a dumpster; let’s keep dancing!

Pastor Jim