November 7, 2017
I’m so grateful to the folks who have already given these stewardship moments. Eileen’s gratitude mirrors my own and like Mike I, too, can speak to how giving of myself ended up rewarding me in unexpected and profound ways.
I told Rev. Steve I would share about faith formation. I have participated in a lot of things over the years and all of it helped form my faith.
Years ago, prayer was not a regular part of my routine and something I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. At the time, Plymouth, through its faith formation program, encouraged us to take on a spiritual practice, so I chose prayer and joined the newly formed Prayer Group. Praying for others, with others, opened me in unexpected ways and carried me through the aftermath of 9/11 and the recession that followed. And while I’m not in the prayer group now, prayer is something I’m comfortable with and a routine, a practice, that continues to carry me.
Similarly, I can talk about Bible Studies that have made the Old Testament, the Gospels and the letters compelling, relevant, instructional offerings of guidance along my pilgrim journey.
I could talk about worship. I shared with Kelle last week how I leave every Sunday with some gift, whether a message of encouragement or challenge or whatever I need. Last Sunday, I needed to hear, “You are enough.”
Currently, I’m being formed by neighborhood learning groups. They seem to be created specifically to meet my needs. Reading Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal in Fall, 2015 with my beloved neighbors, allowed me to walk with my mom and my dad through cancer, through Mom’s death and then Dad’s. Currently, our group is taking the deep dive into white privilege…exactly the conversation I need to engage in my leadership role at my school and my participation here at church to end racism.
Plymouth hasn’t just supported and encouraged; it has formed me and continues to do so. I could stop there, but feel compelled to say one more thing about stewardship: Pledging our money to support the work of this church.
I see stewardship as an act of faith, and not necessarily an easy one. For me, making a pledge to give my money away is a necessary spiritual practice that regularly reminds me my life is not one of scarcity and money is not my God. I must be intentional about this, because it’s very easy for me to see my savings account as the source of my salvation. The stewardship campaign gives me practices that have allowed idolatry to loosen its grip on me. The Stewardship campaign is an ongoing Plymouth U course: Your Money or Your Life. I share this with you as you think about pledging because yes, like Eileen illustrated in her moment of gratitude, we are a vibrant place, up to important work in the world, work that needs to be funded. And yes, like Mike shared last week, giving of your time, talent and money, can bring you unexpected rewards. Perhaps, like me, you give a percentage of your income to Plymouth as a necessary act of faith, a concrete way of saying yes, God, you are my rock and my redeemer. –Sue Maul