Cathedral News, September 24, 2017

 
 
 

For the four Sundays in October, I plan to use this space to reflect upon my time with you as Dean of St. John’s Cathedral. There are so many memories, and we have shared so many rich experiences, that I don’t want my time as your Dean to come to an end without sharing some of my thoughts, which I hope will encourage you to cogitate upon the last ten years, also. Your thoughts will be important as the search process for the next Dean gets underway.

Today, however, I want to offer some thoughts about stewardship.

The annual Pledge Campaign is about to begin, and this is a year for one and all to be involved. Every year’s pledge campaign is important, of course, as it signifies not only our response to God’s unfailing love and providence, but it also enables the abundant Cathedral ministries that touch the lives of so many in this congregation and throughout our community. This year, though, it is critical that each person makes a commitment to be involved in the home meetings that have been scheduled (and which are outlined in the announcements in this Cathedral News). These will be times for you to have conversations with fellow members about what the Cathedral means to you, the importance of its ministries, and the part each will play in going forward into the next chapter in the life of St. John’s.

In addition, it is vital that each household participate financially in this year’s Pledge Campaign. The 2020 plan, designed by the Vestry in 2016, is well on its way toward success. You will recall that one of the primary goals of the 2020 plan, initiated by the very successful “Mind the Gap” effort, is to reduce the draw from our investments funds each year, until in 2020 it is zero. Last year the budgeted draw was $140,000, and we actually came in under that amount at year’s end. This year the amount budgeted is $80,000, and it looks as if we will come in under that figure, also. This is very good news, indeed, for it means that you, the congregation of St. John’s, have stepped up to the plate in assuming responsibility for supporting the work of our Cathedral. As always, though, there is more work to be done. There are two more years of planning, careful work by the Vestry, and generous support by you, the members of St. John’s, before the 2020 plan is realized.

Today’s Gospel lesson is about the generous householder who paid each worker the same wage, regardless of how much he had worked. Some laborers started at the beginning of the day, while others came at the end of the day and worked only an hour. True to human nature, those who worked more expected to be paid more, and they said as much to the householder. The generosity of the landowner is not about following the letter of the law, however. It is about the truly abundant and generous love of God that is given to all equally, regardless of how long they have labored in the vineyard. Translated to modern terms, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a member of the church, how long you’ve been a Christian, in what ministries you are involved, or how much you give to the church and other charities. God’s generosity in love, forgiveness, and providence isn’t constricted by human terms or expectations.

This overflowing divine generosity, indeed, is the root of our response in stewardship. Yes, there are constraints upon how much we might be able to give, because very few of us have limitless resources. Still, we give what we can out of a loving and thankful response to this extravagant love of God that fills our lives with such rich blessings. I hope that we all might be mindful of God’s love as we respond with full hearts, offering to God that which he has first given us.