“Put simply, life is a God-given opportunity to become who we are, to affirm our own true spiritual nature, claim our truth, appropriate and integrate the reality of our being, but most of all, to say ‘Yes’ to the One who calls us the Beloved.” –Henri J.M. Nouwen
Dear People of St. Michael’s,
We have been on quite a journey this year: one of loss, hope, and everything in between. Despite all the uncertainty behind and before us, we have seen one thing for sure: God has been at work in the midst of it all: our continued reparations work, our steadfast commitment to feeding our neighbors through Saturday Kitchen, our thriving hybrid worshiping community, our small groups gathered in Scripture study and prayer, and so much more. We have continued to gather in fellowship and faith, as we continue to grow as followers of Jesus Christ.
Life is an opportunity — a journey to saying “Yes” to the God who calls us Beloved. Life is a journey to love, to welcome, and to invite; a journey to create peace and to live generously. Bishop Robert C. Wright of Atlanta writes: “When we give, we are participating in the personhood of God. We are participating in what is most real in the universe — God’s inexhaustibleness! We are making God real in the world by lending God our flesh through partnership.”
This year’s stewardship campaign is called “Giving in Gratitude.” It is about participating in God’s inexhaustibleness. The pandemic has shifted our understanding of the word “essential,” and I, for one, have gained a renewed appreciation for the “daily bread” — the physical and spiritual sustenance — God has provided abundantly. To be honest, I haven’t always been a “cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7); I always have a bit of nervousness when I give money away (will there be enough for me?). My faith continues to bring me back to the simple truth that God has always provided for me, even during life’s most trying circumstances. This year, I am not only a more cheerful giver, I am a very grateful giver.
There is no one formula to how much we should financially commit to the church, because there is no one formula that is universally possible or applicable. But there is a guiding twofold philosophy I have found helpful: 1) to give an amount that sits just outside the edge of my comfort zone, and 2) to give in a way that reflects my faith as a priority. In other words, how does my spending reflect my values?
We all value expressing gratitude for all God has given us. In that light, I invite you this year to take the risk of participating in the inexhaustibleness of God by confidently giving in gratitude to St. Michael’s. As you fill out the pledge card for your 2022 financial commitment, please consider committing to a standard of giving that reflects your standard of living.
In deep gratitude, let us give so the glory of God might shine brighter through the mission and ministries of St. Michael’s!
The Reverend Julie M. Hoplamazian