Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Giving Thanks

This is a General Thanksgiving prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (it is on page 836)

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us.  We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.  Amen.

This has been one of my favorite prayers for a long time.  I think it is perfect for the Thanksgiving time. 

My favorite part is the paragraph that thanks God for failure.  I rarely think about failure as something for which I want to give thanks.  But the truth is that I have always learned more from my failures then I have from my successes. 

I also like the part that thanks God for tasks that require our best efforts.  There really is nothing better then accomplishing something that is a challenge.

As we move towards Thanksgiving and we think about what we are thankful for, I invite you to move beyond the usual things that we think about and move into giving thanks for your challenges and failures too.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Great St. Paul's Talent Search

We tried something different for our stewardship theme this year.  We gave everyone an opportunity to participate in the parable of the talents.  If you aren't familiar with it, it is found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25.

For two weeks we had envelopes with $10 bills available.  The instructions were to take an envelope and use the money to bring the presence of Christ into your world and then come back and tell us about it. 

Unlike the landowner in the parable we didn't necessarily ask people to come back with money, just stories.

Well we had some great stories:

One woman purchased fleece on sale and made 19 hats for children at our partner school in Buffalo.

One woman made pies, invited her red hat group to come and purchase slices of pie and share in a social event.  She brought back $70 as well as a story of several people going to read the parable.

One man was thinking about what to do with his $10 when he saw someone collecting cans and bottles from the trash and gave him the $10.

One woman bought gloves to hand out to homeless people.

Several people donated the money to different causes that they cared about from Episcopal Relief and Development to the Heifer Project, to other causes that they cared about.  Several of those people used the $10 as seed money and matched it with their own funds.  Some used the initial $10 to challenge family and friends to also give.

One person reached over her pew and gave the money to another parishioner who was fundraising for a cause that touched her life.

The love of Christ spread out from St. Paul's into a wide variety of places in a wide variety of ways.  We will never know how many lives were touched by all of our talents and willingness to share.

The challenge of stewardship, of course, is to consider how we use all the gifts that God has given us to bring the presence of Christ to our world all the time.  That is the most basic definition of stewardship.

As the landowner in the parable said to his servants: "Well done, good and faithful servants."