September 19, 2023

From the Rector…

In the late 1990s, Steve and I went to a stewardship breakfast at St. Paul’s in Selma. Bishop Stough was our speaker, and he told a story of how he and his wife had committed to give 10% — the biblical standard of the tithe—to the church when they first married. He went on to describe some of the hardships they had experienced over the years, but they remained committed to their giving and somehow always found a way. It was an inspiring talk. Steve and I went home that day and prayerfully considered how we might follow his example. It took several years, but we committed to giving a tithe of 10% to the church as our grateful response to God and all God has given us. I am pretty sure that the transformation Steve and I experienced in our relationship to God over that time has a lot to do with why I am a priest today.

One of the joys of getting to do the work I am called too is the number of stories I hear from you regarding your reasons for giving. For Bishop Stough it was simply a response to faith. For Steve and me it has been transformative. Just the other day one of our young families told me how much they appreciate all that CoA has to offer their children, particularly the opportunity for their children to learn music under Becky and Meg—our Children’s Choir directors. Their faithfulness in giving, though not at 10%, was a recognition not only of all that God gives to them, but also of all that the church offers their family in terms of their own spiritual development. 

Then there are the numerous stories of peace that I hear related to simply the presence of this place in the midst of a chaotic and frightening world. Neighbors and strangers share with me the sense of hope and peace they feel when walking on our grounds or spending time in our gardens. Those strangers don’t necessarily give to CoA—but your gift inspires them. The scouts find a place in which they can gather and learn about themselves and the world. AA meets in Joshua House to strengthen one another as they face the challenges of living a sober life. ADS offers a place for children and their parents to be nurtured in a loving environment. We provide a place for people to come and grow in God and one another on Sundays and just about every other day of the week as well. We provide the foundation for a transformed world.

Your giving is a part of that transformation. You are transformed through first fruits, proportional sacrificial giving and so is the kingdom of God. All the ways that this place we call Ascension touches the world shines the light of the kingdom a little brighter in this dark and broken world. When we give to God in grateful response, we begin to be transformed ourselves. Instead of seeing the world for its scarcity, we begin to see the world in its abundance—the world God created and called us to steward.

That was a big part of the message Steve and I heard from Bishop Stough that Sunday morning so long ago. It was a message of hope and trust that God’s provisions are always enough. This Sunday we get to hear the message of hope and trust as we kick off our stewardship season. This year’s theme comes from Jeremiah 17:8, “They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.” We are Rooted in Abundance because we are rooted in God. I hope you will come to the Stewardship breakfast Sunday morning at 9am and hear about our rootedness and our possibilities. We can only realize our dreams together.

Light and Life,