STEWARDSHIP AND REFLECTIONS ON 1 CORINTHIANS 3:5-9, FR. JOSEPH C. ALSAY, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
2021 Stewardship Message for the Leadership of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Text: I Corinthians 3:5-9
There are moments when we need to shaken up. We often look for moments of comfort and ease, for places where we fit in and don’t have to worry about things that are pleasing to us but, may not be pleasing to God.
But as followers of Christ, we are called to step into the uncomfortable.
Truth be told not everyone who follows Christ realizes. For the past eighteen months we have found ourselves in a trying time. It has placed us individually and collectively in the crucible testing and it has exserted a great deal of stress and anxiety on all us.
But I am heartened and confident that you are here today as a living testimony that amid the trials and even divisions of our present moment, it has been only by the grace of God have you survived to tell the story. You are here tonight as follow leaders in Christ church and co-workers in God’s vineyard not just to have a great meal but rather, to recognize and celebrate the fact that each and every one of you has been faithful in living into our collective calling to do the work…. the hard and sometimes laborious and tiring work of building the kingdom or as was the theme of the 84th Diocesan Convention “Let us Rebuild.”
The work of building or rebuilding is not the sole task of one person or the dream of a select few. But rather it is the commitment and resolve of the many, to partner with each other and accomplish the which has been set before us; until the work is complete.
So, what is our work?
To equip the saints for the works of ministry; in other words …. build up the kingdom of God until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature. It’s to live into the words of the motto of St. Augustine’s which are prominently displayed on the bronze Dedication plaque on the corner of the church building, “Growing the Family of God.”
A story is told of a woman who dreamt she wandered into a shop at the mall and found Jesus behind the counter. In the dream, she looked at Jesus and Jesus looked at her and said that she could have anything her heart desired. Astonished and delighted the woman thought and finally asked Jesus for peace, joy, happiness, wisdom and freedom from fear.
Then she asked Jesus to give this not just for herself, but for the whole earth. Jesus looked back at her and smiled and said, “I think you misunderstood me, we don’t sell fruit here, we only sell seeds.”
Most of us want the fruit without doing the hard work of planting seeds. A wise woman once reminded that our job is to be faithful in scattering the seeds. God will bring forth the increase.
Because seeds have a way of growing in the soil while they are all covered up. All the while they are creating division in the ground. Separating what has been packed down, packed together and even in the disturbance it leads to fruit.
Next week, the congregation will receive a letter inviting them to step out in faith and partner together with you and all the members of SAC to accomplish the work God has entrusted to our congregation. Through our sacrificial giving to the ongoing mission and ministry of St. Augustine’s we will join in work of spreading the seeds of love and a radical acceptance of all people. The seeds of hope and joy which help to build the beloved community God.
I recently received a posting from a colleague that stated the due to prevalence of Online services, an obvious scenario is taking place on the landscape of church attendance today. “You can’t serve from your sofa. You can’t have a community of faith on your sofa. You can’t experience the power of a room full of believers worshipping together on your sofa. Christians aren’t consumers. We are contributors. We don’t watch. We engage. We give. We sacrifice. We encourage. We pray by laying hands on the hurting. We do life together. The church needs you and you need the church.”
May we ask not just for good fruit, but rather good seed. Pray that as leaders we will co operate in the work of sowing good seeds even in the midst of division, So, that there will be growth and fruit for those today and for the generations yet to come.
~Rev. Joseph C. Alsay, Rector, Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.