Dear Friends in Christ:
It has been a little over a year since I joined this faith community named St. Martin-in-the-Fields. It has been an enriching time for me. This parish is blessed with people of strong faith, hope and vision. It is also a place that reminds me of the following prayer:
Abundant God, you made us in your image and breathed in us a spirit of generosity that is both gift and response. Move us, we pray, to give as we have received – abundantly, generously, and joyfully that our common ministry may ever bear witness to your unfailing grace. In the name of the Three in whom we are One. Amen.
– Diocese of Maine
There are several things that strike me about this prayer. The first is the idea that generosity “is both gift and response.” God gives us a spirit of generosity and in thanksgiving for that spirit, our response is to give to others. What a great concept! Look at what has happened in a year….we have partnered with Fever United, our school has truly been embraced by this church, and our youth have led the way to serve the needs of the Union Gospel Mission with their Service Sundays, just to name a few things. Gift and response is part of our being, as common and regular as breathing. People are generous by nature!
The other part of this prayer that I find very affecting is the last line: “In the name of the Three in whom we are One.” Stewardship is about relationships: our relationship to God, our relationships with each other and our relationship with our faith community. Indeed, we must feel the connection to be “one” with our faith community, to give generously and joyfully.
Just as God has “breathed in us a spirit of generosity that is both gift and response,” showing an action and a reaction, the world is asking us to look at many aspects of our lives in a similar way through a dialogue on sustainability. The current economy and state of the environment are catalysts for a concept of “sustainable stewardship.”
A concept of sustainable stewardship supports the vitality of our church while preparing it for the future with the calling of a new rector. A culture of sustainable stewardship allows for growth and foundation strengthening without over-reaching to unrealistic goals when resources are strained.
Sustainable stewardship takes the basic concept of stewardship – all that we do with all that we have – and relates it to how we live our lives inside and outside of our church community. Sustainable stewardship can move us from meeting the budget to growing a congregation of generous people. A culture of generosity can become a sustainable resource.
Stewardship is more than money; it’s about relationships and growing those relationships with God and others that become the sustenance of our lives together. Creating a culture of generosity through relationships will allow us to create sustainable stewardship and a sustainable St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
Contemplate this and then fill out your pledge card…. Every one of us needs ways to say thanks to the God who is the source of all that we are and all that we have. The question for us is not “how much of what I have been given does God demand?” but “how much of all God has given to me do I have any right to keep for myself?”
The Rev. Mike Wallens