Good morning, everyone-thank you for allowing me to address you again this morning-I would like to start off this morning’s presentation with a short excerpt from St. Paul’s Letter to the Christians in Corinth. This is from the First Letter, Chapter 3, Verses 5 through 9.
“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, according to his labour. For we are God’s fellow workers: you are God’s field, God’s building.”
I pondered on this brief statement-and tried to understand what news Paul was trying to convey at the time that he delivered it, and what meaning it could have for fellow Christians here in the 21st Century-over 2000 years after he spoke and wrote those words. I think that what Paul was getting at has to do with a call to us to recognize that we are all partners, in a sense, in this grand Christian mission-and that by bringing forth whatever unique and individual talents we night possess-to contribute to building on to the foundation that those early Christians in Corinth began-is truly our calling. Stewardship is both and individual and collective concept and activity-it works best when all the stakeholders involved with an organization participate. I think, if we consider the present situation that we find our own church to be in-now, perhaps more than ever, universal participation is something that we certainly need.
Many of you know that I am not a lifelong Episcopalian. I was raised in a family of Roman Catholics-a skeptical family, for sure. The concept of Stewardship was something that I became aware of when I was well into adulthood and began attending churches of the Episcopal denomination. I recall hearing and reading stories, about other Episcopal churches in certain locales, how back in the old days (aka the 20th Century), annual budget shortfalls would be covered financially by one or two well healed church members who could afford to kick in a disproportionate share of money to make sure that a particular church would remain solvent for another year. We don’t have that situation here at All Saints’ Oakville, but I don’t think that this is a bad thing. In fact, I believe that it is actually a good thing-because it can show us how important it is for every church member to participate and contribute to whatever extent that they can-to help continue our mission here. Remember, we are one in The Spirit, and we ARE one in The Lord.
The partnership that we all share in has to do with how we care for this church unit, and how much we care for one another. Certainly, we are all individuals, whatever personal agendas we carry are not always tied to what connection we have to our church-but, I believe, and I know from my own personal view, that the bond that we have with each other, and this church, is real. Individually, we are called, as Paul states in the passage I read earlier, to plant and water so that the growth can follow. Collectively, we are called to share in whatever labour is required to maintain and grow God’s church-this church. I love the bond of community that I experience being a member of All Saints’ Oakville. I know that each of you feels the same way.
Please continue to partner with us in continuing this grand experiment that we call our church.
Next week is Harvest Sunday-it took us a little longer than originally anticipated to mail out the Stewardship Campaign introductory letters and Pledge Cards-but, they are all en route to you now via the USPS. I would like to address the congregation again next Sunday-but, the theme of that address will be rooted more in facts and figures-not so much in a Spiritual context-the purpose of which will be to inform you of what our current financial situation is, and how important it is for us to do what we can to stay the course for another year. Hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a rapid end-and we have to think in terms of 2017-but it will be here. I look forward to having that opportunity next Sunday-please remember to bring you Pledge Cards and offer your commitment then.
God bless each of you, and God bless this church. Amen.