Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Grace...favor from God and some ideas on stewardship

My parents visited NJ this weekend, and my wife and I had a rare opportunity to enjoy their company without the pressure of holiday-related demands on my time. They normally visit during the Christmas "holiday" and I wind up working most of the time they are with us. This visit gave us time together.

One of those moments came when my father and I took my dog Sophie for her evening walk. For the past few weeks, I have been mulling over some ideas for our parish's fall stewardship campaign. As we walked, and dad and I talked, I had a startling vision of a single word: GIFTS.

Really, it was a visual acronym. But, what did the letters stand for? Sure, in the church's vision of stewardship we are called to offer up the first fruits of the bounty God has showered upon us in this life...but what GIFTS do we name and offer to God for the work and witness of the Church?

As we walked and talked, my father helped me to identify and begin to clarify the acronym. Here is what we came to:
  • G-grace
  • I-inspiration
  • F-faith
  • T-talents
  • S-service

The basis for the idea, I find, is not so much getting a parish through an annual fall program of ingathering of monetary resources for the coming year's fiscal plan. Far from it, this idea focuses more-in my imagination-on that more elusive goal of parish leadership: inspiring people to make of stewardship an ongoing engagement with God and the service we are called on to render to the Church and to the kingdom of Christ on a day-to-day basis.

Five steps, five states of being if you will...grace, inspiration, faith, talents and service. We ackowledge God's grace-God's favor-toward us in our lives. We seek inspiration through the Holy Spirit as we respond to Grace. Through inspiration and grace, we express faith and respond to God-bearing fruit in our lives as God "gives us the growth." Then we offer talents in praise to God. Finally, in that posture of gratitude and giving, we render service to the kingdom.

For the next few blog entries, I am going to try to enumerate these ideas. First and foremost, Grace.

On a personal note, I give thanks to God. This is the first time in a long time that I am feeling bright and creative around the demands of parish ministry. So, I praise God's favor, God's grace for this concept of GIFTS and look forward to plumbing where that grace will carry my thoughts over the next few days.

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