This past Sunday we kicked off our Fall Stewardship Season, “Living Generously.” I talked about the campaign in my sermon, but we also have many invitations into this time of discernment for our parishioners. We each received a packet of information about the ways we can support the life and ministry of Hickory Neck. We have reflections written by national and parish-level leaders that invite us to consider their experiences around stewardship. And we are having conversations with each other about how pledging works for each of us.
Just last night, the Vestry took on one of those conversations. We looked at the gospel lesson for this coming Sunday (Luke 18.1-8) and talked about the challenge of persistence when it comes to stewardship. We realized that no matter what financial situation or phase of life we are in, living generously does not come naturally or easily, but takes intentionality and persistent commitment. In our small group, we had a person with young children – including some in childcare, a person with teens approaching college, a person who is thinking about retirement but has taken in an aging parent, and a person in retirement on a fixed income. Despite those differences, we all have to be intentional with our commitment to stewardship because we all have commitments that can distract us from generosity and tempt us into scarcity.
There was something powerful about talking about hard keeping our commitment to stewardship is with other parishioners. Too often we take those pledge cards home and embark on a discernment process that is very individualized. Certainly, we all need time with our God on our own to fortify ourselves to being generous stewards. But we also need companions on the journey – fellow parishioners who can say, “Yes, it is hard living generously!” We need those fellow pilgrims because they also remind us of why we keep at it. These are the same people who will remind you why you are grateful. After the Vestry talked about the challenges of living generously, then we talked about the benefits. Stories started pouring in about what we each get out of Church. We talked about the ways that Hickory Neck feeds us and brings us joy. We talked about the ways that, throughout life, God has been so faithful to us, and what an honor it is to be able to harness some of that generosity in our own lives.
On Sunday, I encouraged us to spend some time at home in discernment about our stewardship of God’s abundance. This week, I also want to encourage us to spend some time in discernment with each other. Share those challenges to being a steward; but also share those blessings of being a steward. Those conversations may feed the conversation you have at home and will certainly renew your spirit. Join us as we embark on this journey toward living generously together!