Dear friend in Christ and fellow worshipper:
On my telephone is a place to slip in a piece of paper: usually you put your telephone number there. Instead, I have a message from a fortune cookie:
ANSWER EXACTLY AS YOUR HEART PROMPTS YOU.
That, in a nutshell - or a cookie - is our stewardship message this year. Put more elegantly, by the apostle Paul, it goes like this:
Each of you should give as you have decided for yourself; there should be no reluctance, no sense of compulsion; God loves a cheerful giver. And it is in God's power to provide you with all good gifts in abundance, so that, with every need always met to the full, you may have something to spare for every good cause; as scripture says: 'He lavishes his gifts on the needy; his benevolence lasts for ever.' (2 Corinthians 9:7-9)
We are blessed. We are blessed with each other, with the presence of the Lord, with all God's gifts. At Saint Alban's Church, we know that God works together with us in unexpected and generous ways. The Holy Spirit has brought us together as a community, like a household under one roof, to be the people of God in this place at this time.
We are called. We are called to share the blessings we have received, to pass them on to the generations to come, and in thankfulness to praise God for all we receive.
We are chosen. We are selected to receive from others the gift of the knowledge of grace, to receive the gifts of difference and similarity, to join together in common purpose - to praise God, to show forth the Good News of Christ in our words and in our lives.
And we are encouraged. We are given new hearts, living each new day in the knowledge of the grace and glory of God.
Let us share with one another, with the community around us, and with the world beyond, the gifts we have received from God. Some of those gifts are tangible, and measurable - but the most profound gifts are beyond price: the grace that comes to us from the hand of friend or stranger, the peace that is communicated to us in the Word of God, the hope that is ours through the Work of Christ. These gifts are intangible, even inexpressible.
As you contemplate your giving to the church of Saint Alban for the next year, be encouraged to give with a cheerful heart - seeking God's guidance as you make your pledge, confident in your mind that what you have to give is honorable, and assured that with gratefulness and generosity you can give what you know in your own heart is right to give.
Our economic times are uncertain; they always are. Know that the Rock on which our Faith is built is steady, and safe: in the love of God you will always have a home.
Together let us resolve to give thankfully, rejoicing in the richness of the grace that God has given us. Let us with gladness present the offerings and oblations of our life and labor to the Lord. Thanks be to God for his gift, which is beyond all praise!
(2 Corinthians 9:15)
Have a blessed day.
Yours faithfully in Christ,
The Rev. John Leech
St. Alban's Episcopal Church
21405 82nd Place West, Edmonds, WA 98026
Scripture quotations taken from the Revised English Bible.