Stewardship is an all Year Around Effort
We continue to focus on Stewardship as an all year around effort. Your many gifts and talents are generously offered throughout the year, and the fall brings focus on financial giving. This year’s theme is Faith-Filled Generosity as you have seen in your Every Member Canvass booklet and package which should have arrived at your home. If for some reason you have not received one, please contact chelsea@stjohnsessex.org. This Sunday, November 8, is Commitment Sunday when we ask that all pledge cards be returned to St. John’s either via mail or by placing them in the offering plate at 9 a.m. In advance we thank you for your generosity.

Parishioners continue to share stories of why St. John’s is important to them and why financial giving is needed. This year’s financial giving is more important than ever, given the impact of COVID-19 and the hope we have for the future. We invite you to pray deeply about your giving. More than ever we need to join together in sustaining our church home, the ministries outside our walls, and all the ways we are called to be on God’s mission in this place. Rhode van Gessel shares her story with us this week and we are grateful for her ministry among us.

A faith filled generosity reflection

A dear friend sent me this snippet about grace and stewardship … “stewardship is taking care of ‘things’ that are not intrinsically ours. They’re things entrusted to our care. When I used to think about being a good steward, I just thought it meant taking care of my things, being responsible with my money, my family etc… What I didn’t realize was my things … weren’t really mine at all. They all belong to God.”

In 2008 I received a frantic call about my fathers’ lifestyle and spending habits from cousins in the Netherlands who happened to live near my dad. It appeared he was “illegally sheltering an undocumented, homeless person from China” and “was spending all his time and income” helping this man with identity and working papers. AND, they complained, not only him, but others were taking advantage of my father.

Rick and I had wondered why my usually independent frugal Pop had been askingus for a bit of financial help. We now worried my dad was being foolish, not just with our cash but with his life. As his dutiful daughter, I could at least ask him to be more careful! That opportunity appeared as we received another call asking for help. I said “Pop, I heard you were harboring illegals and that our money was going to them and not your bills?”


…“Your money?” My dad snorted …”Everything we have belongs to God, including my life. He has blessed us so much. Do not ask me not to bless others with what I have been freely given.” Ouch. After my father passed away in 2014, I heard someone say ‘God’s money lives in my pocket.’ My dad would have said “Amen!”

While they lived my parents tithed. Faithfully. Regardless of circumstance. My brother and I were asked to do the same. Hard to give when your allowance is a quarter. Harder still when life is a financial roller coaster and we struggle with faith and trust.As members of the body of Christ and the community of St. John’s we are learning how to be stewards of all God’s creation. The choice to do so is also a gift. Offering our time, talent or treasure to follow Jesus is never safe or easy, but as my father would say … “It is always good!”

A LETTER FROM THE EPISCOPAL NETWORK OF STEWARDSHIP

Lives shaped by The Beatitudes by Mary MacGregor

Last Sunday’s Gospel recalls Jesus’ sermon on the mount, commonly referred to as The Beatitudes. In his usual manner, Jesus surprised his followers by uttering godly, countercultural truth. In essence, his teaching that day laid the foundation for what it means to live a Christian life.
 
What does it mean to be merciful, pure in heart, meek, poor in spirit, mournful, to be a peacemaker, to hunger and thirst for righteousness and be willing to be persecuted for it? The Beatitudes are a guide that, when studied, reveal layers of meaning for us as believers. They challenge many of our basic human desires and behaviors. Of ultimate importance, they clearly reveal what God seeks to bless.
 
Aren’t we fortunate that our God is forgiving and full of grace as we strive to be transformed by these teachings? Our journey of formation requires change and opening our eyes to see God in action all around us. Included in this change is seeing God’s endless blessings poured out upon us and developing a posture of gratitude in return.
 
Being thankful changes us for the better. Being thankful changes our perspective on life and can profoundly impact our understanding of God’s generosity. Being thankful can shape us to be stewards of all God has entrusted to us. Being thankful softens our fears. Being thankful turns fear of scarcity into joyful gratitude for God’s abundance.
 
We remember the saints who have gone before us on All Saints Day. Some were revered as saints of old. Some were modern day saints. Some were simple folks like you and me. One distinguishing characteristic of saints is that we can see how they embodied and lived Jesus’ teachings, these very Beatitudes. They generously gave of their lives so much so that we remember them today. We are confident they were blessed by God for their faithfulness. May we be thankful for their witness and see in them lives shaped by The Beatitudes and be willing to do the same.

Canon Mary MacGregor is a member of the board of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. She has been deeply involved in congregational development for over 25 years, and served as Canon for Congregational Vitality and Mission Amplification for the Diocese of Texas. 

FOR REFLECTION

  • How do The Beatitudes impact your understanding of God’s generosity?
  • How has that understanding changed you?