Stewardship Through the Lens of Our Parish Members

Stewardship is 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. Every Member Canvass Booklets which tell the story of St. John’s ministries are in process of being created. Skip Fiorelli is again organizing and seeking volunteers for canvassing. Parishioners are beginning 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. Be on the lookout for materials that will soon arrive at your home, and please pray deeply about your giving. More than ever we need to join together in sustaining our church home and the ministries outside our walls. Over the next few weeks, we will feature members of St. John’s who share their stories, and today we begin with Sherry and Lee Gaby.


God’s Psychiatry is the title of a book that was introduced to us by a woman who taught Sunday school in 1964. Ms. Allen told us it was one of her favorites. We became friends through Disciples of Christ in Community program, and she insisted that we call her Peggy. Not long after our shared experience in that group, Peggy became a godmother to five immigrant children who had come to the parish with their parents from Liberia. She was well past her 80th birthday at thaGod’s Psychiatry is the title of a book that was introduced to us by a woman who taught Sunday school in 1964. Ms. Allen told us it was one of her favorites. We became friends through Disciples of Christ in Community program, and she insisted that we call her Peggy. Not long after our shared experience in that group, Peggy became a godmother to five immigrant children who had come to the parish with their parents from Liberia. She was well past her 80th birthday at that point.

Jesus teaches generously. He even teaches in our sleep, says another friend of ours. He holds up the small coin to us and says, can you modern-day believers see what I see? Over and over, he has asked us to re-think, question, and wrestle with our limited conception of stewardship. It has prompted us to re-examine our assumptions, even to make us think that tithing is not some miracle that will occur only once in our life or that we might run out of blood if we increase our donations from twice a year to five times a year.

We didn’t understand at first why Peggy was so excited by God’s Psychiatry.  In her own way, it was an extension of her generosity. Finally, we bought a copy and learned it was an abbreviated Bible in four parts: How to Think About God through the 23rd Psalm, God’s Rules for Living through the Ten Commandments, How to Talk to God through the Lord’s Prayer, and The Keys to the Kingdom through the Beatitudes.

We know our generosity is insufficient. A lot of things are not like we want them to be. We want to be cheerful givers and “give ‘til it hurts.” We want to be fully involved, to hold on to less and give back more. Increasing the time we spend in outreach, healing, and small group conversations are good ways to follow Jesus. Our giving to the church and others hardly compares to God’s gifts to us. 

We keep being told not to strive for perfection in the way that the world teaches us. Our Sunday school teachers like Ms. Allen remind us that He has paid the price for us; the victory over sin has already been won.   

St. John’s parish community shows us the kind of perfection that God has created. You have helped open our eyes and ears. Also, because of your generosity, these words have gained new meaning for us: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15) At the same time, you encourage us to simply seek His perfect love, live fully into our Baptismal Covenant, and more and more let God direct our path to becoming what He intended us to be.   

God’s Peace – Sherry and Lee Gaby

A LETTER FROM THE EPISCOPAL NETWORK OF STEWARDSHIP

In this past Sunday’s gospel the Pharisees are trying to trip up Jesus. If Jesus supports the paying of the tax, his Jewish siblings who are rebelling against the Roman occupation will shun him. If Jesus says it’s unlawful to pay the tax, he’ll be in trouble with the Roman authorities. What does Jesus do? He asks them to look at the coin. It is a Roman coin. Pay the tax – meaning give the Emperor back his own coin! Then Jesus adds that wonderful line — give to God the things that are God’s. 

What exactly IS God’s? Well, we are! Our Christian faith in God points us always to live a life of gratitude and generosity.

God showed us how we are to live and how to give to God the things that are God’s: God gave us God’s son, God’s first fruit, and we are asked to do the same, remembering that everything we have, everything we do, everything we are is a gift from God — and it is a gift that is meant to be shared. When we share from our first fruits, as God shared God’s first fruit with us, we are modeling the same generosity God has shown us. When we share from our first fruits, as God shared God’s first fruit with us, we are modeling the same generosity God has shown us. 

Remember, we have two sets of three legged-stools in our Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement: scripture, reason and tradition, and time, talent and treasure. The first shapes our faith; the second is how we use the gifts we have been given to live out our faith.

The Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce is the Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Her ministry focuses heavily on stewardship, financial sustainability and New Community development. 

FOR REFLECTION

  • How does practicing your faith help you recognize all the gifts God has given you?
  • How are you giving to God the things that are God’s through your time, talent and your treasure?

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