September 26, 2018

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Dear St. John’s Parishioner,

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry often describes us as “The Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.”  As we begin to talk about stewardship, I want to pose these questions: What does that mean for us? What is God calling us to do as followers of Jesus?

As Episcopalians, we love our worship.  Our liturgies inspire us.  The Eucharist is at the center of our lives.  We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and we are people of the Word. As part of the Jesus movement, we follow the One who loves us so much that he gave his life so that we might have eternal life.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to give all of ourselves to God’s work in the world.  In the sixth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus, after teaching us how to pray, talks to us about money, our needs and our hopes.  He reminds us that we cannot have two masters.  We cannot love God and money. Jesus then says: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

He finishes by calling each of us with these words, “But seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” How would our church —how would each of us — be transformed if we truly lived by these words of Jesus?  We would probably adjust our thinking about what is important and what is not. We would adopt a more Christian worldview.

Establishing new priorities for ourselves and for our church means transforming how we think about generosity.  That transformation means that we look for generosity in every aspect of our work and in every aspect of our lives. Following Jesus requires us to take the long view. Jesus challenges us to give all of ourselves to God’s righteousness and to trust in God’s care.

You will be hearing from the co-chairs of our Every Member Canvass very soon. I know you will respond quickly and as generously as you are able. I hope you will join your parish family in working together to transform generosity in our church, our community and our lives.

Yours in Christ,

The Very Rev. Charles E. Connelly
Rector, St. John’s Church