Fall brings many activities at St. Peter's, right now, namely, our Stone Soup stewardship program!
We've been dropping "hints" about Stone Soup, and you have heard from our Interim Rector and our Senior Warden- direct to your mailbox. On Sunday, October 9th, many of you heard the actual Stone Soup story for the first time! Isn't it a great story?? We provided this story to the kiddos for them to take home- a great "pop up" book that even included a CD! I must say Fr. Dick did a fabulous job narrating this story during sermon time! Lee Underwood proposed this idea for stewardship this year and our committee got to work! On November 6th, we gave out beautifully hand-painted stones by local artist, Sherry Curry, with a message about ways in which children may also participate in giving. Now it's my turn, as your Parish Administrator, to talk a little bit about money. A comfortable discussion for some, uncomfortable for others.
Let us investigate the ingredients of our Stone Soup, beginning with the stone. Barbara Cordova talked about our soup containing three stones, representing the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. She mentioned that we are called to grow in faith. Amen sister! Using our stone analogy, I must say that these stones, in relation to stewardship specifically, are a pretty heavy ingredient and "charge" to us. From Proverbs 3:91-0 "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine."
As the person that has great insight into our church's giving patterns, I can tell you that so many folks have taken seriously the command to tithe (now the meat of our story). It is interesting to note that a very high percentage of our tithing (income) comes from those folks 60 years of age or older. I think this very much relates to people growing in faith over time and becoming "seasoned" in their relationship with God, as well as being representative of our current demographics. One can also argue that folks have more freedom with their money and, thus, have greater ability to tithe when they are older, as their children are grown and they may have fewer financial responsibilities.
How do those of us who are younger begin to form that same seasoned commitment to our relationship with God, more pointedly as it relates to our tithing? First, you have to ask yourself if you truly, I mean truly, BELIEVE that you are called to follow God's command to tithe. If your answer is yes (and I must say for myself that although I am not as versed as many in the scripture, I am a God-fearing person and know that I am richly blessed in my life and I must bless others), then you simply must give. Blessed are those that bless others, I think, can sum up many different scriptures about tithing. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
A question then becomes, how do I do that with my income, my children and their demands, my mortgage, and many other responsibilities. I am a huge fan of a budget. In developing a budget, some of us probably think we do not have any "extra" income to give (hint- if you do not have a written budget for your household, humor yourself by adding up the different categories of spending for any given month...you may be amazed at your spending habits…..and just FYI, if you'd like a budget template, I have a great excel spreadsheet I use for our family that I’d be happy to send to you). If I may be so bold and address a thought process that you do not have any "extra" income to give, I do not think this is the same thought process when we want the 12 pack of Coke, or the many dollars spent on convenience foods, or saying "yes" frequently to our kids (I'm guilty!). Personally, I know I'm going to have some frivolous, unbudgeted spending. It is human nature for most of us, I think. Wink! I have made the choice to begin that weekly spending by setting up automatic payments to the church first. Quite frankly, I do not need those Cokes or that convenience food! I'm going to be sure that St. Peter's is an automatic part of my unbudgeted (now budgeted) spending because I am called to appreciate my blessings. From Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Onward to our potatoes! Our potatoes represent our God-given time and talent. We are to thank Him for our time on earth and the talents and personal gifts we have received and continue to cultivate in our lives. As one of Emily McRae’s favorite scriptures states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:13-14. While we have all contributed to our personal growth and outcomes, it is because we are wonderfully made first! And we were knit together with our talents, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, likes & dislikes, and so on. Personally, I’ve had quite a fun time trying to figure out my talent nooks & crannies. I’ve wanted to be a pathologist, a motorcycle cop, a CIA agent, a “foreign affairs” worker (whatever that is), and then finally settled on social work for most of my adult life thus far.
I have read numerous books that say that to figure out what your passions or talents are, you should look back to your childhood. What is it that you loved doing? What could entertain you for hours? How did you conduct your childhood spare time? I had no idea at the time how this would form my future, but as a kid I would ride my bike to Ben Franklin’s and spend my allowance money on office supplies for my playroom (which I set up as an office….sometimes I would play “office worker” and sometimes “teacher”). When I babysat for a particularly untidy family each summer (headed by a single father raising 4 children- yikes!), I would clean and organize the kitchen and living room over the summer….not like just clean a little, but deep clean! Cleaning and organizing became two of my best talents and have been at the center of my work life! Over the years I’ve also tried my hand at cooking (I’m much improved) and photography! Two areas that I had no idea I might enjoy.
What are your potatoes??? What can you bring to our Stone Soup at St. Peter’s? I challenge you to get creative and even look backwards (in time) as to what things you might like to do that are in line with either past talents or passions. If not, maybe try something new (I venture to guess the church may be a safe & welcoming place to test your talent waters)! Or, just do something! Anything. There is always something to do here. Please let me know what you enjoy doing and I’ll see if we can’t come up with some ideas to use your talents, including your career assets!
Finally, our colorful vegetables! All so varied in color and nutrient content, each bringing a unique flavor to the dish! Our vegetables are consumable, and like our talent potatoes, they are rich in variety. There are a lot of things we, St. Peter’s, need to purchase or pay for to run our ministries and operate administratively. Whether it is for ongoing items like copy paper, toner, or kitchen supplies, or occasional or special project needs, like VBS supplies, wouldn’t it be great if we could lessen some of our budget items because you are keeping us supplied?
In closing, as your Parish Administrator I’d like to stress that we need all soup ingredients (whether it is time, talent, or treasure). Like in our Stone Soup story, we, as characters, can create warm & nutritious food for our spiritual community, encouraging all of us to continue to grow in faith.
Please join us this Sunday, November 13th for our Potpourri of Food celebration in Tucker Hall, following both the 9:30 a.m. and the 11:15 a.m. services.