Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Vestry

As we approach our annual meeting at St. Columba’s we are working on plans, budgets and yes, the vestry election. The vestry and the work the vestry accomplishes in a parish are important. We all know the vestry is about the business of the parish. Traditionally this has meant things financial. If you read the canons, they set up a dichotomy between things spiritual and things financial. The clergy handle spiritual and the vestry handle temporal.

I am not sure the split has ever been a terribly helpful way of approaching parish ministry. The separation of spiritual and temporal strikes me as artificial and patently false. Conceptually, the separation conspires to make the vestry like any other board, and I don’t believe that is meet or right.

At St. Columba’s, the vestry and clergy work together to shape and enliven the ministry of our church. Our spiritual commitment dictates how we do our business, because the Spirit is at our core. At each vestry meeting, a member of the vestry offers an opening reflection. It has been an important way to know one another and remember what we are about as a vestry. Members of the vestry often speak of what they have gained through their service.

I see the vestry as a group of spiritual leaders, gathered to do the work of the Church. We are responsible for the physical aspects of the life of the community. The life of the Church is about much more than buildings and budgets. We seek to be faithful.

The red doors on the church symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit. Clergy and vestry seek the Spirit’s presence in our parish. I hope you will consider offering your gifts for the service of your parish.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

In the sermon Sunday, I explored the significance of the identity of the “grateful leper.” He was a Samaritan and a leper, a double outcast, but was the surprising source of thanks. I think this is the critical focus of this passage from Luke.

The sermon could have taken a number of directions; it is a rich text! There is certainly something here about responding to grace and healing. The “grateful leper” received the same restoration as the other lepers, the same gift of life and new health, but he alone stops to recognize God as the source of it. His act of thanks marks a greater awareness of the significance of his healing. He was readmitted to society free of leprosy, so he was restored to relationship with his fellow humans, and his giving thanks to Jesus signified right relationship to God.

Gratitude is a powerful and central feature of all healthy relationships. Expressed appreciation communicates to others the meaningful nature of their gifts to us. How do we offer God our gratitude for all the blessings of this life? What do you offer God in the name of expressed appreciation?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Foundation of Rock

In preparation for St. Columba’s annual pledge campaign, I have been thinking a great deal about the role of stewardship in my own life. It is very easy to lump my pledge to the Church into the realm of philanthropy. I think philanthropy is different, and I want us to consider the differences.

How often do we receive solicitations to contribute to a worthy cause? There are countless organizations that come to us, whose appeals are rooted in the good work they do. They often show us budgets and show us a percentage of administrative costs in an effort to highlight their prudence and effectiveness. Our decision to give usually hinges on our agreement with expressed values and work. Our gifts to nonprofits are a function of the organization.

I see my pledge to the Church in a very different way. My pledge isn’t as much about the organization as it is about me. My contributions to the Church are a function of how I understand myself in relationship to the Gospel. Am I person grounded in the teachings of Jesus, seeking to love God, love my neighbor and bring about the kingdom? I seek to be faithful in stewardship because I am seeking to be faithful to God and my calling as a disciple. The followers of Jesus pooled resources in an effort to care for one another because it said something about who they were.

Stewardship is about who we are at heart. It is about what resides at our core, our foundation. My prayer is that you will consider our campaign theme, “A Foundation of Rock,” and consider your core identity, your foundation as a follower of our Risen Lord.

Chris +

Matthew 7:24-27

24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell--and great was its fall!"