The Mother Church
of The Dakotas
517 Douglas Avenue, Yankton, SD 57078
IT'S STEWARDSHIP SEASON!
Homily given by Carol Smith on November 26, 2017 at Christ Church
Last week, our country celebrated Thanksgiving, which is a time when we give thanks for the blessings God has given us, such as family and friends, a warm home, an income, freedom, and living in a country with great natural resources. My family Thanksgiving tradition was to go around the dinner table, before we ate, and share what each of us were thankful for.
Two Sundays ago, Fr. Jim talked about giving thanks for who we are and our talents. It is the season of not just giving thanks, but it is also the time to pay our blessings forward. Gratitude is at the heart of giving. It is Stewardship season.
During the last few weeks, the readings have been about separation and answering God’s call to serve. First, there was the separation of the wise bridesmaids who brought extra oil for their lamps, from the foolish bridesmaids who forgot to bring extra oil and were unprepared when the bridegroom arrived. Then, there was the separation of the good stewards who multiplied the talents given them, from the lazy steward who buried his talent.
Today’s parable speaks of placing at the right hand of God those who offered hospitality to the stranger and attended to the needy, and placing at the left those who were unwelcoming and ignored the needs of others. Then the king said to those on the right “come you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Another look at today’s Gospel shows that Jesus has an interest in the response to those in need: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and those in prison. Because at the end, the division will take place between those who heeded the word, and those who heard, but failed to do what God commanded.
It is the season to consider what God meant for us to “share our blessings.” Our talents were meant to be shared, to do the work of the Lord. When Jesus fed the masses, he used only what the people had given, five loaves of bread and two fishes, and it was more than enough. It is a good reminder that God uses the gifts of the people in our faith community. We must trust in God and the congregation as a whole to provide what we need to move forward with hope, down the path God is asking us to follow.
Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again so that we might have life and have it abundantly. Nothing we do can repay that love, but we can show our love and gratitude for Him when we respond to the Great Commission to go into all the world as Christians and welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. For the love of Christ, we can cause good things to happen.
Stewardship is a life practice that brings comfort, hope and joy to you and many people. Being good stewards is an integral part of the congregation’s worship, education, community life, and mission. We can teach and help one another to be stewards for each other and God’s creation. When talking about Stewardship, the Church refers to the 3 T’s: Treasure, Talents, and Time.
Giving time and money can be a challenge, but there are many different ways to choose from to serve God and people throughout the year that can fit your schedule and budget. Consider your talents. How can you give and use your talents for the good of others? I encourage you to get involved. Assist where you can to help each other at Christ Church to go down that path God wants us to be on.
In our church Worship Ministries, there are several ways you can serve. You can play a musical instrument or sing a special song during our services or Sunday school. We always need Lectors for reading the lessons and prayers, and greeters at the door. If you are interested you could be trained as a chalice bearer. Our youth have an opportunity to become an Acolyte and learn how to assist during the worship services. And of course, we are always grateful for volunteers to host the Coffee Hour. There should be a sign-up sheet in the kitchen.
Also, there are always opportunities to help in our Outreach Ministries. You can to sign up to be on the prayer chain, help with packing food for children in need in the Sack Pack program, and volunteering to help serve at The Banquet to people who are hungry. Kids Hope is a wonderful program that helps children at risk. You can sign up to be a mentor to a child 1 hour per week or as a Prayer Partner, someone who prays for a mentor and child each week. Meals on Wheels can use people to help deliver daily lunches to those who are in need or unable to cook for themselves, such as the elderly or disabled. Ladies, if you have not done so, try to attend an Episcopal Church Women (ECW) meeting and learn more about how you may assist in the various ministries in which they are involved within the community. If you are talented in computer work, the church website is in need of updating and maintenance. You can volunteer to bring soup to our Lenten Soup & Bread Suppers which are fun and educational.
The Church EDUCATION & CONTEMPLATION program includes the Sunday School and Youth Group. We are currently looking for a person or a couple who has a lot of energy and ideas to lead the youth group and get it up and running again. If you have a topic you think is of interest to others, consider leading a discussion session, such as the one I held during Earth Hour this past year. Consider attending the Centering Prayer sessions currently held at 1:30 on Monday afternoons in the old Rectory if you are available.
Finally, there are other stewardship opportunities in supporting the parish by serving on the Altar Guild, helping with needed maintenance and repairs of the building and grounds on a scheduled Church Work Day, and providing transportation for those individuals who are unable to drive to Worship. And I am sure we could come up with limitless other stewardship opportunities.
I encourage each of you to pray and consider how you may help in continuing to answer Christ’s call to serve and love one another, and fill out one of the Pledge Requests provided in the narthex of the Church.
As Fr. Jim wrote in his Stewardship letter to the congregation, “May we continue to answer Christ’s call to offer hospitality, friendship and love to all who come through the doors of Christ Church and to reach out with Christ’s unconditional love to the Yankton community and beyond. Let us be thankful and generously support the ministry of Christ Church.”
Will you answer Christ’s call to love one another and share your blessings?
A stewardship prayer: Our Father, who is the giver of every good gift, you are ever present in our lives and in the world. You act through us, your people, to care for and provide for everyone. We pray for the courage to breakout of our insecurity and fear around money as we deepen our understanding of our relationship with you and how we use our financial resources to do your work in the world. We pray these things that we might know you better, that you will increase our desire and ability to give and help others through ministry and friendship and to gratefully commit ourselves to the work you have given us to do. Amen.
Christ Episcopal Church 517 Douglas Avenue Yankton, SD 57078 605.665.2456