“As the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill were gathered into one to become our bread; so may all your people from all the ends of earth be gathered into one in you.”
These lines of Marty Haugen’s hymn seem to sum up this year of 2020 – we have been scattered to our homes, our remote work locations or as e workers, to our individual on-line lifestyle. Yet we are called in unique and previously untried ways to be gathered into one to Join where God is at work in the world and in our lives. You are invited to be “gathered into one” at St Stephen’s, to join where God is at work in this parish, and to offer your pledge to that work.
Pledging offers us the opportunity to be more intentional about what we give – not simply giving from what we find left over. Instead, pledges are a way of offering the first fruits of our labors to God. In that way, pledging helps us commit ourselves to the spiritual practice of giving. Pledging is a practice of gratitude. Through pledging, we givie thanks for all God has given us. Pledging is a practice of trust. Through pledging, we learn to give more freely, to let go of ourselves and our control, and to lean into a deeper trust in God.
Practicing stewardship through regular giving to the church is about much more than generosity. By practicing stewardship, we acknowledge that God is creator of all that is; that what we have to give was given to us by God. By practicing stewardship, we accept that what God entrusts us with is given to us for a purpose: to participate in God’s dream for the world. Practicing stewardship changes us, and enables us to embody God’s dream more fully. Giving by making a pledge is a spiritual practice in which we participate in God’s life of abundance in profound ways.
As you consider your commitment, please ask yourself:
- How does my commitment reflect gratitude for the abundance I experience at St Stephen’s and in my daily life?
- How does my commitment to St Stephen’s reflect the relationship I want to have with money?
- Of all the gifts I have received–my income and the wealth God has granted me–what proportion will I give to support God’s work here at St Stephen’s?
- How will fulfilling this commitment be a part of my spiritual practice?
- Does my commitment decision make me joyful?