Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ:
“We don’t know what the Church will look like in five years.”
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that or a similar statement about the future of the church. Attendance is down and people are not coming back to church. Online viewers are scrolling past our livestream. Volunteers are harder to get. People are less willing to commit time and money to the church. People are tired and “got out of the habit of going to church.” (I’d like to believe that going to church is more than just a habit.) That’s all true about but not unique to St. Philip’s. It seems to be happening in many places.
I usually hear that statement about the church’s future in the context of the pandemic, as if the pandemic made the future of the Church uncertain. I agree, we don’t know what the Church will look like in five years. But I don’t think that’s because of the pandemic. I don’t think we knew what the Church would look in five years before the pandemic.
What if the pandemic did not cause what is happening in the church? What if the pandemic simply opened our eyes to see what was already happening in the Church, in the world, in each of our lives? What if the pandemic is holding before us the question of stewardship?
While it’s common in the church to think of or refer to the fall as stewardship time, I don’t think that’s completely accurate. It would be more accurate to say that the fall is the time when we talk about stewardship. Every day, however, is stewardship time. Every day you and I make choices and decisions about our priorities, how we will order our lives, and to whom or what we will give ourselves.
Stewardship isn’t an annual decision or an event in the fall. It’s a way of being, a work in process, and the continual shaping and reshaping of our lives.
What priorities are governing your life today? What is ordering and shaping your life? To what are you committing and giving your best efforts? Is your life shaping up the way you want or does it needs some reshaping?
At some level those choices and decisions are about our time and money. We give to and show up for what matters to us. And if it doesn’t matter or if it matters less than something else we usually don’t give to or show up for it. Each choice or decision we make forms and shapes our life in a particular way. The shape my life takes affects not only me, but also you, the Church, and the world. One way or another you and I make a difference.
I wonder what difference you and I will make in the coming year, individually and as a people called by God to be a “public face of Christ,” for each other, Uvalde, and the Church.
Time and money, giving and showing up, are not just stewardship questions to be answered with an amount. They are gifts we’ve been given by which we shape our lives, the Church, and the world.
I hope you will begin reflecting on and praying about the gifts of money and time in your life, what you are doing with them, and how they are giving shape and order to your life. In that regard, on Sunday, November 14, Ashley Taylor will talk about using the gift of money in his and his family’s life, and the following Sunday, November 21, Lory Zimmerman will talk about how she and Darrell use the gift of time, presence, in their lives.
On the First Sunday of Advent, November 28, we’ll turn in our pledge cards expressing our commitments of money and presence for the coming year. We’ll have breakfast in Briscoe Hall and celebrate and give thanks for our life together. And we’ll open our hearts and minds to the coming, the advent, of something new.
I’ve enclosed a postcard of the upcoming stewardship schedule as well as a 2022 pledge card. You may also submit your pledge card online.
I’m grateful for each of you and our life together.
God’s peace be with you,
Michael K. Marsh
Submit your 2022 Pledge Online
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