It is that time of year again. Time when the vestry and staff roll up their sleeves and prayerfully prepare for the coming year of ministry by considering what resources will be necessary to accomplish what we believe God is calling us to be about. That effort results in a draft budget. We then look for confirmation of our perceived ministry callings in the tithing pledges of our parishioners. And that’s where all of you come in, of course.
We call it stewardship, and it is a vital dimension to our Christian discipleship. Fundamentally, good stewardship is faithfully fulfilling a charge we have been tasked with by and on behalf of another. In other words, we have a trust to use what belongs to another to advance their interests or fulfill their desires. If you are an investment broker, your task is to take other people’s money and make them more money by wise investments. It isn’t your money to use as you please. If you try to treat it as such, you can be arrested for fraud. Or something like that — you get the idea.
In similar fashion, our lives and all that we have are good gifts from God. We belong to Him first and foremost. Stewardship is about investing our lives — our time, our talents, our financial resources, our personhood and personality — into the world in such a way that God’s kingdom and glory are advanced. So you see, stewardship is not so much about funding the annual church budget (although that is an attending consequence) as it is about us, individually and corporately, being faithful to God with everything that we are and everything that we have.
For a bit more on the heartbeat of stewardship, I have reprinted nearby an article I wrote last year. But here, I would like to conclude by telling you what to expect in the coming few weeks.
You will perhaps already have received a letter from me and the rector with an enclosed tithing card. If not, expect to receive this soon. In part, this mailout will highlight the many transformational ministries that your giving enables. We want you to know what has been done in the past year with your tithes and offerings. Please prayerfully consider what God is calling you to give in the coming year.
On All Saints’ Sunday, Nov 6, the sermon from Ephesians will remind us that we are children of light that should imitate our Heavenly Father. We should be about His work in His ways such that it reminds the world of Jesus. Think of this as part of the church’s mission to the world — to point people to Jesus by the way we live.
On the following Sunday, Nov 13, the sermon will speak of the great love of Christ for the Church that finds its pale reflection in the human love of husband and wife. It is precisely because we are loved so perfectly in Christ that we can be free to give ourselves completely for the good of others. This will be the Sunday we will collect this year’s tithing pledge cards.
After that, the vestry will rework the budget as needed to align it with your giving, with the goal of approving the 2017 budget at its December meeting. The budget will then become a reference of accountability for our corporate stewardship of both your giving and our ministries in 2017.
We are truly thankful for God’s grace in calling us all to engage together the Gospel mandate of discipling the nations. We are thankful for your faithfulness. And we are thankful for the unique and wondrous gift that is you.