Stewardship Message from Rev Mark
How long have you been here now, Rev Mark? Well, basically since October 2015. Just over two years already, Mark. How time flies! Is the normal response. So, this means that in 27 months – 27 months – I have never talked to you, or anybody else connected with this church, about money! No-one can say therefore that the Rector is always talking money! He is not! Yes, I talk to the members of you Parochial Church Council about finance and they talk to me and to each other; but since I have been here, I and they have never talked to you about the subject. Almost a bit unreal you might think because with Karen, back at home, what do we find ourselves talking about a lot? Money! And in your homes what do you talk and worry about a lot? Money! Yet the church must pay for things; but for 27 months I have kept the subject of money away from you. With coming here, making my mark, preparing for and delivering our 800th anniversary year of celebrations, our stewardship of finance, money, has been firmly off the agenda. Yet, after 27 months, as we step into our 801st year of faith, as your energy prices goes up, so does the churches; as parish share – that amount we rightly pay to the diocese, goes up; as this parish gets bigger and bigger; as we seek to expand and grow, we need finance to enable us to do all this. Yet as I say this, I have to say thank you for all that you do; thank you for the finance given to the church; thank you for your time; thank you for your talents you give to us; thank you for who you are and your presence with us. Thank you. Yet as I thank you, I am sure you will understand there comes a time when you must look at what you have, how your spending, where you can cut back. That time is now here at this church: we have reached a point where we have cut back (rightly) un-necessary expenditure as much as I and others think we can. However, if you know where else we could cut back, which is right and proper, we shall do even more. I give to this church financially as you do, and no-one likes to see their money wasted. I don’t, and you don’t. Yet in rising prices, a significant increase in parish share and a growing parish, where we must spend to grow and reach out to all, then our budget drawn up by the PCC – a realistic and sensible budget that it is – means we are forecasting a deficit of £11,064. Yet this stewardship campaign beginning this Sunday is not a begging bowl campaign. It is just saying to those who do not regularly give each week – even when they don’t come to church – would you like to do so? A set amount each week, giving regularly, can help so much. Knowing that as a church we have a regular amount of income coming in is crucial for us to meet our expenditure. You need to know in your households, what you have coming in – well, it is obvious that we do as a church. And it is also a stewardship campaign saying that those who regularly give – with all your demands which I know are great at times – we feel that if everyone who gives could increase that by £3.50 a week, we would meet our financial challenges. Some might be able to do that; some might even do that by a larger amount; some might only be able to increase a little. Yet our campaign is simply saying from a Rector who doesn’t talk money a lot, this is where we are, and this genuinely is what we need: can you help? Our gospel reading set for this Sunday is that of Jesus’ first miracle: the turning of water into wine. At the outset of his ministry Jesus is revealing the grace and generosity of God. Surely, those two words – grace and generosity – are the starting points of our faith, of our relationship with God. What we see of God in Jesus and his teaching is that an overflowing generosity is at the very heart of God’s character, and is an essential building block of the Kingdom Jesus sets before us in the Gospels. Indeed, God can be no other than generous, because God is love, and the essence of love is giving. As Christians we try to live as Christians and demonstrate kingdom values in our lives. Being open to the Holy Spirit is our desire to demonstrate something of God’s generosity and grace, transforming our own lives and, by extension, other lives as well. We seek to be transformed into the image of Christ, though that transformation is always a bit of battle for us all! Yet being transformed means asking ourselves questions about what we do with our time, lives, and finance. Living as Christ would have us live. The Bible has a lot to say about stewardship of God’s resources and about giving to the community of faith of which we are a part. From the earliest days of Christianity comes a picture of loving Christian communities whose shared life reflected something of the generosity of God himself. We see this in the Acts of the Apostles and in many of the churches to which Paul and others were writing to. Mutual responsibility is a notable mark of the New Testament Church and it includes, among other things, clear financial implications. Helping one another and helping the fellowship of which they were part. I accept straight away that this word called stewardship is about more than just money, and it isn’t only about church. I understand many of you give generously of your time and skills, and that you are very supportive of other people, involved in local community and charitable organisations and, I guess, support many good causes. I am also conscious that all of us as church members face spending, financial and lifestyle questions daily, and that sometimes choices must be made, and priorities ordered. You know where you fit into all this, and I know where I do. Yet in being part of a church means we all have a responsibility to reflect on our giving specifically to the ministry of that church, and to do that prayerfully and realistically. So today, and for the next three weeks, we are addressing quite rightly the financial life of this church, ways to give, what our budget is and why we spend what we do. How we can both maintain and grow our church in this ever-expanding parish. Our sermons on a Sunday will reflect this; we have two open meetings – day time and evening – when people can come to an information and question time about the financial side of our church; our leaflet given out from this morning sets the scene and within it there is a pledge card for you to fill in, if you can, prayerfully and realistically, over what you can give in this new year, our 801st year of faith. Please note that only one person, our Stewardship Secretary, will ever see that card – not me or any member of the PCC. Confidentiality is assured. If you are a UK tax payer, then you know we can claim an extra amount on your pledge to us. We invite those pledge cards to be returned by the . Finally, Christian stewardship was explained to me in this way. When a charity asks for our support we are often asked to become donors or supporters. When the Church asks for our support we are called to be stewards which is something a bit different. For a steward is someone who cares for property that is owned by someone else and the property that has been entrusted to us is God’s world, and we are called to take care of and manage the world and its resources, in ways that will bring in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth which is why the Church calls our giving stewardship. Let us recall the words of our offertory prayer said each Sunday: “All things come from you and of your own do we give you” And if everything has been given to us by God then it follows that the time he has given us needs to be used wisely; the talents he has given us need to be engaged to benefit others and to give glory to God; the money that has been entrusted to us needs to be spent wisely and given responsibly. For it is God’s gifts we are using. We want our church to thrive and grow; for that to happen, we need everyone to help play their part – in prayer, in word, in action, in financial giving. Thank you.
Stewardship Leaflet & Pledge card
© All Saints Paston 2018