Last year when I preached the lay stewardship sermon I admitted to having been more or less clueless as to how to go about determining how much to pledge every year. Apparently the sermon struck a chord with people, and I learned that I had not been alone in my discomfort with the reckoning part of pledging. But at some point I determined that invoking spiritual presence would provide needed help. Rather than approaching pledging from a purely financial approach, sandwiched with prayer, I try to be mindful and spiritual. And although I am the only person in my family who is presently involved with St. Mark’s, I have envisioned how the process would work well with others. Begin by setting aside a little time to be quiet, thoughtful and grateful. Think of that which brings you grace and peace. If you have family members who attend St. Mark engage them (including children and teens) in a conversation about what both God and St. Mark’s mean to each of you. It may be surprising or disconcerting, but checking in about church is an opportunity to have an important discussion about the ebb and flow of faith in our lives. When you have a sense of what is important to you about St. Mark’s, move to imagining what could make St. Mark’s even better. Would it be more community outreach, more opportunities for spiritual growth, less _______ (fill in the blank)? Then, in this mode of appreciation, determine what each of you can contribute to sustain St. Mark’s, enable its growth and to express your gratitude.
When I contemplate St. Mark’s and its role in my life, I am grateful for our community, the time I spend with young people and adults, people who are willing to take time from the complexity of their lives to give thanks and recognize the divine in everyday life. I love the generosity of our community in its support for Hotel de Zink, the giving trees and the youth missions and our prayers for the worried and wounded, as well as for other worshippers around the world. I love Christmas Eve services and Easter Vigil and how the holy chaos they often display reinvests meaning into to holidays that elsewhere are secularized and mined for profit. I love that we mourn together as well as celebrate together and that we do our best to welcome people at any stage on their lives’ journey.
I now find that stewardship season is an opportunity to recognize the many blessings that abound in this community. It is a good time to talk with our families, teach our children and remind ourselves about our responsibility to mindfully contribute time, talent and treasure to a place and community that sustains us and helps us sustain others.