For the past three weeks I have reviewed some of the principles of Christian stewardship that I have learned and taught over the course of my ordained ministry. Today I want to share with you my most ambitious and comprehensive effort to express what the Bible teaches us about how to manage our lives considering Jesus’ gift of new and abundant life. I am referring to a video I created during one of my sabbaticals, the first several minutes of which you will see, perhaps for the first time, in just a moment. The insert in your bulletin is a copy of the text panels that are interspersed with images of parish life during my first ten years as rector. I’ve also added four statements at the top of the list which illustrate how stewardship is woven into the fabric of today’s lessons.
For example, our first lesson from Isaiah suggests that there is no better way of expressing our joy that God has invited us to a banquet celebrating his conquest of death nor of putting that date securely on our calendar than by making a financial pledge to be there. We aren’t buying a seat at God’s table with our pledge, but we are making sure for our own sakes that we don’t squander his invitation on something infinitely less vital to our future.
We can also appreciate when we reflect on today’s psalm that a pledge is an effective way of expressing both our desire and our intention to keep our minds, hearts, wills and feet within earshot of our Good Shepherd.
And when we take a cue from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we recognize that a pledge also expresses our resolve to stand firm in the peace of God, a peace which this world cannot give, a peace that surpasses all understanding, a peace that is a priceless gift.
And finally, when we listen to today’s gospel, we can understand that making a pledge is how we put on the garment that God gives us so that we will be acceptable in his eyes and may rejoice with him and with each other at his Son’s wedding banquet.
I hope you will take the time to read the insert before you fill out your pledge card, and if you’re interested, I will be showing the entire video in the parish hall after the service.