by Reverend Amanda
What are some indications that you are excited and passionate about something? For me, when I truly believe in something, when I am passionate about something, it is always present on my mind. I dedicate time, energy, resources, and valuable space in my life to it. It is not something that I can forget about. I have always felt this way about church life. It has been a part of my life since I was 3 years old and once I entered those doors, I never turned back.
I came to Easton 12 years ago last month. When I arrived, I was fresh out of seminary. I was a member and ordained in a different denomination and I was as new and unsure of myself as anyone starting in a new job would be. I was just a supply preacher at the time and was working fulltime in a preschool in Danbury. When I walked through those doors the first thing I thought was “Wow what a gorgeous church!” Next, I was greeted by Leon, Jim, Jeff, Vera, Jon, and Phil. I felt more warmly embraced by this community than I had felt at almost any other church I had entered in my travels as a preacher.
I preached my first sermon, sang a few hymns, messed up the order of worship, and yet I was still engaged after worship with questions about myself, what preached, and where I learned to sing. I thought to myself, “Wow this is curious bunch”. But I also thought “Wow they are taking an interest in my ministry, my calling”. I wasn’t being told that women shouldn’t be doing this vocation or that I too young to lead in church.
I felt at ease and comfortable immediately. That’s when I knew that God had called me here. I was quickly invited back for another Sunday. In those first moments, I was excited about this church, and I still am. I am excited about the wonderful outreach that we do here each and every month. I am excited about the way we reach out to those in need and share the love and compassion of Christ. I am excited about joining in small town celebrations and events. I get excited about trying new worship ideas and perfecting older traditions. I get excited to explore and learn new things about our scriptures together with you.
I get excited when we welcome new life by performing the rights of baptism. And I cherish the way that people come to us in their times of grief and need inviting me into some of their most cherished memories and moments. I have rolled up my sleeves to cook at the Harvest Dinner, and have taught vacation bible school. I look forward to the annual picnic each year and the comradery of our fundraisers. I have descended into the moldy depths of the church basement and helped clean the grounds.
And I have done all of this because I truly believe in the work of Christ in this church and through this church. I have given of myself because I have faith in what God is doing here. Our scriptures this morning, are about this. They speak about the importance of stewardship. I purposely decided not to just come out and define stewardship for you but rather to show you what I believe stewardship to mean because this is the best way to understand the sacred act of stewardship. This act was crucial to the early church and it is crucial to a faith in God today.
In our gospel reading for this morning, we read about a dishonest manager who when on the verge of losing his position decided to worry less about money and the material items of this world and to worry more about the legacy that he left. He reached out to those indebted and acted generously with them. We are being asked to do the same type of stewardship with faith and life. We are being asked to honor God by living generously with other people because the good will that we sow, the compassion and mercy that we share in our lives matters more than the wealth that we do or don’t accumulate. Winston Churchill once wrote, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”.
When we give it means that we have committed ourselves to something. When we give to our church it means that we support our missions and recognize the work of the Lord in our community. So as you fill out your yearly pledge forms, I invite you to do as I have and reflect upon what you love about church and rededicate yourself to this community of faith. Remember what we read in our scriptures for this morning, “With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good”. Our God urges us to live a life of generosity and care. So let us remember to give of ourselves both of resources and energy and time so that in the work that we do we help others, love the world, and honor the glorious and wonderful name of our Lord because this is really what life is all about.