A Weekly Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, October 14, 2018
By: Tracey Ragsdale
For the past 10 years, I have been part of a woman’s Bible study group. The members of this group are my friends, some of whom I have known for years and some of whom have enriched my life with new friendships. Collectively, they provide a safe outlet in which I have been able to share both burdens and joys. One of the things I love most is receiving a Bible verse and commentary each day. They always seem to bring me some much needed perspective. I was particularly inspired by Psalms 118:29: “So let’s keep on giving our thanks to God, for he is so good! His constant, tender love lasts forever.” Erwin McManus writes, “Gratitude changes your perspective about life. You see the future, experience the present, and remember the past in a dramatically different way.”
During this season of stewardship, I am grateful. I am grateful to the wonderful staff who led us so seamlessly through our transition and so graciously welcomed David and Emily. I am grateful for the tireless work of the Rector Search Committee who so prayerfully listened as God called us to invite David as our next rector. I am grateful for the enthusiasm of this congregation as they have embraced David and our staff and are excited to share ways we can better serve in the future. I am grateful for Karen and Mike Huennekens who, without hesitation, said yes to our request to lead us in our annual campaign and who have worked to organize this effort. I am grateful to St. Mary’s for all that it has given to me and my family. I am thankful for the many friendships I have found through our church, the opportunity for spiritual growth, and for the constant challenge to become a better, more Godly person.
One of the ways I can show my gratitude is by joyfully pledging and supporting this parish. I love what we at St. Mary’s are doing, and I am inspired by how much more we can do together to share God’s blessings.
“Gratitude changes your perspective about life.”
A Weekly Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, October 7, 2018
By: Mike Blanks
This year I had the privilege of being asked to serve on the stewardship committee. Prior to our first meeting of the year, I began thinking about what stewardship really means. It is now that time of year when we have been asked to make a pledge to St. Mary’s. By now we have all received the narrative budget and have heard at the adult forum and Sunday service about the importance of our pledges in order to meet the budget goals, to keep St. Mary’s running smoothly, the beautiful buildings and grounds maintained, and to achieve the goals of the many ministries of St. Mary’s. All of this is a necessity, but I am sure to many it also sounds like a burden to bear for all of us. So where do we find guidance and answers?
The Rev. David May has urged us all to prayerfully consider in making our pledges what God is calling each of us and St. Mary’s to do. In my own prayerful consideration of what stewardship means, I looked to our Episcopal traditions and the Bible for guidance. As Episcopalians we find in the last three of the five baptismal promises what we are charged to do not only within our own parish but also in the greater community. We have all accepted our mission by responding to each baptismal promise, “I will with God’s help”. In applying this to our pledges, we must meet the needs of not only our parish, but as Christians we also have the responsibility to do good works in our community and the greater world.
As part of the Eucharist service, in the Prayer of Thanksgiving, we together pray, “And now Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.”
These reflections made me realize that my annual pledge is not a burden to bear, but instead an opportunity to be joyful about. As stated in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: “The person who gives generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.”