As we re-enter the lectionary and re-enter the sanctuary together this September, we find ourselves walking with the people of Israel as they flee Egypt, wander in the desert, and make sense of how to be a new people in a new land. And while these enslaved people are under the shadow of Egypt’s empire, God asks Moses to gather “the whole congregation.” Before they are “the people Israel,” before they have made it out of bondage or out of the wilderness or out of anything at all for that matter, God already calls them a “whole” congregation. And as we follow them on their journey together, we learn some things about what it means to become a whole congregation together, too. Throughout these two months, and more directly during the month of October as in years past, together we will press into the importance of stewardship, giving, and acts of commitment to the life of the church. If “stewardship” feels like a real churchy word, think of it this way. Stewardship is, very simply (but not so simply), the task of taking care of, properly tending for, and addressing honestly the needs of an institution or community. Good stewardship always involves the act of becoming, much like becoming a whole congregation. It takes honest conversation about our past and any trauma or pain we’ve endured from it, it takes intentional care and formation of leaders, it takes giving and serving in ways that are not rooted in fear or anxiety. It takes a group of people who have chosen whole-hearted living to make a whole-hearted congregation. So, during the months of September and October, we will focus in on our community, on stewardship, and on what it means to be a “whole” congregation, together.