The plain truth is that how we use our time shows more clearly than almost anything what we value. But most of us spend our time in a haphazard reaction to whatever crisis is in front of us. Setting aside time for God’s work, for prayer, for family, these things give our lives the rhythm that allows us to be pro-active rather than re-active. Once these “big rocks” are in place, the other, less important activities fall into their proper place.
I have been preaching out of our lectionary texts and have structured this sermon series about the five “pillars” of the program life of our church: Praising, Learning, Serving, Caring, and Sharing. My hope has been that as we have reflected on these broad program areas, that you might have felt a small tug from the Holy Spirit to engage in some area of this work. Many of you are already engaged in one of these ministry areas, and my goal has not been to have you spread yourselves more thinly. If you feel fully engaged and fulfilled by this work, wonderful! If you have been working in a particular area for a while and feel a call to a different area, that may be a sign that there is a different call on your life than before. And if you have been engaged in one of the ministry areas and feel a call to engage more deeply, that too is a gift. But primarily, my hope is that everyone finds a place where the Holy Spirit is calling them to work.
In the same way that putting God first in our time allows the other pieces of our schedule to fall into place, putting God first in our money allows the other pieces of our budget to fall into place. All of our money is God’s, and the question that healthy stewardship asks is “how much of God’s money do I need to keep to live a full and happy life?” When we ask ourselves that question, it is amazing how many things that we thought were essential no longer seem so.
As we have discussed in years past, sacrificial giving (of both our time and our money!) is at the heart of heathy stewardship. On Sunday, November 22, we will gather in the Great Hall at Metropolitan Memorial at 9am and 11:15am for a continental breakfast, worship (with the focus on “A Life of Gratitude”) and Communion. Gathered around small tables, we will discuss our hopes and dreams for our congregation. We are not mailing pledge cards in advance, and you will receive Stewardship materials that day. You can fill out the Pledge Card then or take it home and reflect and bring or send it back to the church. We will mail materials on November 23 to those who were not able to be at our Stewardship Brunch.
I hope that you will read and reflect on both the programmatic and financial materials from Metropolitan. You might start by looking at your checkbook (or its electronic equivalent) and your calendar. They will tell you a lot about where you are currently setting your priorities, and I would encourage you to prayerfully consider where God might be calling you to engage in ministry in a more active way as we work together to live out our Vision of extending radical hospitality, transforming lives, and pursuing justice.