On this our Stewardship Pledge Sunday I am given pause to reflect on what this day means to us at St. John’s. I want to begin by offering thanks to the people of the Stewardship Committee who once again have presented an insightful and full month of reflection on Stewardship.
I have heard the comment that the ‘ministry tables’ were a great way of showing what we are at St. John’s as a caring and seeking people.
The witness from those over the past few weeks has given us insight into living into a life with God as our centre.
It became very clear to me that we here have a healthy understanding that our stewardship is more than what we put on the collection plate weekly. It is about using all the talents and gifts God has given us to the best our ability.
Our legacy from those who went before us means that we are to continue to build on the origins of the people who in 1898 began to worship in this city of Port Moody.
We are a community who regularly examines our ministry, our mission and our theology. I have been recently reminded that at one of the Sunday morning book studies discussion groups Grant said to us ….
‘You are already theologians as you study and reflect on what it means to you, to St. John’s, to this city and to the world to be a person of Christian faith.’
As we lay our pledge sheets on the altar at the Offertory let us offer a prayer of thanks to God for who we are, for what we have pledged to do and give and offer a prayer of thanks for this community of faithful in this city.
I am reminded of the PBS pledge days and how Glen and I get drawn in to a special musical event being offered on PBS that usually turns out to be a Pledge Drive for this TV station. Always at these times there is an incentive to give more so that you can not only get a CD set but a DVD of the presentation we were watching.
I am not attempting here to undermine what PBS does for I fully understand why they need to do such drives and offer such incentives.
What I was reflecting on was, ‘so what is the incentive that we get as we offer our pledges at church.’ To me this is the difference between any other such pledge drive, and our stewardship campaign.
We offer our pledges, we do not give our time talent and treasure because of what we will get in return but we offer our pledges because we understand that all we have is given to us through God and we must use these gifts to the betterment of the other….
Our stewardship is about living into the gospel message of service to others and living a life in hope.
I believe that the hope we are to live into is not just for a future life in some other realm but the hope for the world here and now.
As I read the lesson from Job my mother came to mind. So many times in her singing career she had sung the words
…. I know that my redeemer liveth…
yet in her final months here on earth she was wondering about that phrase. It is not that she no longer believed but she did wonder what life after this world would be like.
At this point in her life mom needed to be transported outside her suite in a wheelchair as she was only able to walk a short distance before fatiguing, her Macular Degeneration had caused her to be no longer able to knit or do needlepoint or painting that she so loved doing, her hearing had deteriorated so that she would not listen to the music she had so loved..
I remember saying to her one day …
……’Mom are you afraid of death?’
She look up and looking me in the eye she said
…..’no, but this life is so wonderful I don’t want to leave.’
For me this was a powerful moment of a statement of faith even as she was so limited in what she could do she still saw life as wonderful.
Mom continued …
‘It is the dying process that I don’t like but, as to my future well, either everything I have been taught over the years is true and it will be glorious or everything I have been taught is a lie and I will never know.’
I think what mom was saying was that she was not concerned about what came next, she wanted to live her life in this world to the fullest she could, because it was a wonderful gift she had been given.
I believe that as my Mom left this world the words
….. “I know that my Redeemer liveth”
were deeply imbedded on her heart ….
and perhaps she was able to finally know and say as we just sang ….
“We may not touch his hands and side,
nor follow where he trod;
yet in his promise I rejoice,
and cry, “My Lord and God!”
I must admit my head was spinning as I tried to make sense of what Paul was meaning to sayin the reading from Thessalonians.
But as I let the words flow over me I was inspired by the hope that I heard.
Especially in these verses ….
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope,
comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.”
I feel that
This is our hope
This could be our call
Our call to ministry,
This could be our mantra, our mantra of hope,
This could be our personal mission statement about who we are and how we ought to be.
and this is a comfort to me as I continue to seek and search
From Living a Holy Adventure by Bruce Epperly he writes
…..”These passages do not counsel us to passivity or to sitting on the sidelines, letting God take care of the future. We are called to live faithfully, to act lovingly, and to care for the earth regardless of what the future brings. Faithfulness is not about a divine rescue operation but about becoming God’s companion through actions to save the world and bring justice and beauty to our companions. Heaven will take care of itself; our task is here on earth, undergirded by the trust that whatever the future brings, we are in God’s hands”……
I wonder if this is what the Sadducees were missing when they posed their questions to Jesus. Their reasons for asking the questions were an attempt to undermine Jesus, as he had upset the authorities of the temple in Jerusalem and these were his final days before going before Pilate.
The Sadducees were only looking to the structures of their belief to guide them.
They did know nor did they want to know or want to try to understand that this Jesus was more than a man who followed the rules.
Luke’s Jesus was one who took the ordinary in his world and flipped it around to something completely different.
The Sadducees were looking for concrete answers and certainties that Jesus was not prepared to give them. This was not going to happen with this Jesus who spoke in riddles and parables to make us think, not to prescribe a formula of answers.
As we move onward in our journey as a community of believers, as faithful stewards of all God’s gifts, may we live into the hope of the Letter to the Thessalonians.
May we be theologians who do not search for pat answers but live in the hope that in a paraphrase of what my mom said
…his life is so wonderful I don’t want to leave.
as to my future, well I LIVE IN HOPE that everything I have been taught over the years is true and it will be glorious …
I leave you with the words of a song titled Fisher King by Carrie Newcomer. Carrie is a Quaker by faith and her songs reflect an amazing all encompassing, practical here and now faith with under currents that acknowledges the mysteries of this world..
Are you the pilgrim on the road,
Are you the hermit in the wood
Have you followed what you know,
What you want or what you should
Have you learned a thing or two,
Have you wondered at the time?
In your dark night of the soul,
Am I the one you thought you’d find
SOPHIE ANNE ANCHOR-WILSON 6 YEARS OLD.
4 FEET BIRTHDAY SEPTEMBER 15 2010 BLOND HAIR
PEACH SKIN COLOUR BROWN EYES.