Good morning. My name is Diane Kurkulonis, and I am the Stewardship Chairperson for Saints James and Andrew. I have been a member of SsJA since the start and before that at former St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Turners Falls. Today, I want to talk about Stewardship. I confess that when Heather first asked me to speak on this topic, I felt unsure of myself. But then, I remembered that Stewardship is recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God; taking time to be grateful for those gifts, and returning a portion of those gifts to God – understanding that what God gave us we are expected to share. So, I guess talking about Stewardship is a gift meant to be shared, as well.
I first realized the importance of Stewardship at a very early age. I lived on a small family farm with a rather large vegetable garden. My parents taught my siblings and me to be respectful and care for the land. We planted seeds, we pulled weeds, we watered, we nurtured our garden plants, and some of us even got to drive the tractor. At harvest time, we gathered in all our crops and shared generous portions of it with friends, family, and neighbors. We gave back to God. Even as a child, I recognised the joy of generosity and giving.
In my adult life, I didn’t forget those early lessons. l continue to give back wherever and whenever I can. I spend time with God every day in prayer. I actively participate in parish life and ministry. I give generously. For me, there is still great joy in giving.
Stewardship is not some new idea that our parish invented to raise money. It is a request from God. Stewardship is a concept that is as old as Scripture. Throughout the Old and New Testament God has clearly asked us to live as stewards, giving back a grateful portion of all the blessings that have been given to us.
You will recall the story from Mark 12 that goes something like this:
Jesus was sitting across from the offering box observing how the crowd was tossing money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—only two cents! Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
And this from 1 Peter, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
Those who read the Newsletter will have already received our annual appeal letter and a pledge card that can be filled out online. And, within the next day or two, you will also receive a hard copy pledge card from the Stewardship Team. I encourage you to reflect on your own blessings and personal gifts and to consider if your giving reflects those blessings. This year you can fill out your card either online or by hard copy and return it to us by All Saints Day on November 1st.
In closing, I want to invite each of you to commit to a life of faith-filled generosity:
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Do you want to get together to talk about your spiritual life or learn more about our community? Contact us and we will find time to get together.