The Rector's Blog
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October 13, 2016, 3:13 PM

Oh no, she’s going to ask us for money!

  I do seem to ask you for funds practically every month , in addition to the RDF donations – last month it was the floods in Louisiana (you’ll be glad to know that the last Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge closed October 5).  This month it’s Hurricane Matthew.

  And now there’s the annual funding campaign for our operating budget.

  Yes, I’m asking you to help fund the day-to-day operations of Christ Church.  Our annual budget seems like a lot of money (this year we budgeted $178,000.)  So we need to think about why we fund the church, why we fund THIS church.

  As a small church, our fundraising pool is also small.  But did you know that being a small church is also a great opportunity for the development of lay ministry?

  I can’t do it all.  I don’t know what you need if you don’t tell me; I don’t know what fulfills you if you don’t tell me; and I don’t know what to offer if you don’t tell me.  And I don’t know what you would like to offer if you don’t tell me. 

  Do you want to become a lector and read lessons in worship?  Do you want to lead a book group?  Would you like to help design art installations for the worship space?  I’m not going to think of everything, and it is hard to plan for the future of our church community without your feedback, and without your ideas or involvement.

  There is a passage in Numbers 18 requiring that 10% of one’s produce (sheep and vegetables, probably) be given to support the priests/temple.   From this passage, we have arrived at the term “tithe” (related to the word “tenth”) – the standard for financial giving to the church.  And since we aren’t producing sheep and vegetables nowadays, it has evolved into “give 10% of your income.”

  I don’t want 10% of your income.  (Well, it probably would come in handy, but that’s not the point I’m making here!)

  No.  What I do want is YOU

  In saying this, I also want you to know that I know that a lot of other people want you, too – grandchildren, parents, friends, employers, local charitable groups, activity groups…

  So the issue for you is: what does church mean to you? What does your involvement in church mean to you?

And that, my friends, is a deeply spiritual question, one that will take time for you to sort out, with prayer and thought and discernment with other Christian friends or even … me!

  I can’t answer that question for you.  But I can tell you what church – church in general and Christ Church in particular – means to me.

  Like many of you, perhaps, my personal church journey has been a bit of a mixed bag.  I spent many years as a happy atheist (or a depressed atheist, or a teen-aged atheist, which is a unique and difficult kind of atheist), until one day when I was 19, I visited a college chapel with some Episcopal friends and got bowled over by a vision of heaven.    

  Completely unexpected.  Totally mind-blowing.  Frightening and compelling.

  But that’s not why I’m in church now.  If I held onto just the one experience of that one day, I would not be the person I am now; I would not be a priest; I would not be sitting here writing this.

  No, the reason I’m in church now is because God has never let go of me, even when I left the church for years after being hurt by church people,  to such an extent that I questioned the very existence of God.

  It was really only after I came back from Moscow that I felt pushed and compelled by God – not called, not offered, not invited, but nagged – to go back to church.  I used to go past one particular Episcopal church (red door and all) while getting settled in my new house, so I decided okay, I’ll try that one. 

 The first week I was there, someone greeted me with a smile, a word of welcome, a handshake, and an invitation to coffee.  The second week, someone invited me to join the choir.  I still wasn’t any too sure about God (and rather resented being pushed by someone I wasn’t sure existed to do something I didn’t want to do), but as you know, I love to sing, so…

  I had to learn everything again.  Who is God, who is Jesus, who is Holy Spirit, what is the church for, what is the Episcopal Church for, what does it mean to be involved in a church community?

  For me, it meant, and still means, I am walking with others on a journey that each one feels to be their own, yet shares commonality and connection with everyone else’s.  God’s – and our – acceptance of our individuality, God’s – and our – appreciation for our diversity, and God’s – and our – desire for our participation in community is what keeps me going and gives me hope and fills my heart and spirit with joy.

  So yes, I’m asking for your money, but mostly I’m just asking you to be you, with us, with God, growing in the spirit, telling our stories and sharing the journey.  Can you do that?

  Thank you!

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