The leaves will soon be turning colors, and the beauty of the Lord’s creation becomes even more evident in this lovely corner of creation. This issue of the TOWER introduces our new curate, the Rev. Leandra Lambert, with her reflections on Stewardship found in THE CURATE’S CORNER. Mother Leandra comes to St. Luke’s at a wonderful time of growth and with the ability to bring to fruition the need for expanding our ministry into different areas. Leandra will fill in for me at times that I must be absent from the parish; she will be leading this year’s Bible Study on the Gospel of Luke, and exploring work with THE RETREAT, and bringing a type of chaplaincy to the women and children there who are escaping the violence of domestic abuse. She and I discussed the possibilities of starting a young adult group here at St. Luke’s, where. young singles and couples (in their 20s and 30s), can gather for support and maybe even discussions on various spiritual and moral issues facing them today. I know she brings many gifts to our community, and I look forward to working with her in helping St. Luke’s to further its work as a spiritual center in East Hampton Village and Town.
You will also find in this issue some testimonies of members about Stewardship in support of the m inistry we accomplish here. My main goal in ministry is to help all people experience the encompass- ing message and reality of God’s healing, saving, and merciful love for each one of us. To accomplish this partnership of Jesus’ mission that we share I need your help. That help is one of supportive prayer and supportive action. Prayer must undergird all of what we do here at St. Luke’s, which attracts people to us; action is what we do to make our faith evident to others. These are the elements of steward- ship referred to by time and talent, but there is another element that the Lord calls us to honor and that is our treasure.
Without sounding like one of the televangelists or PBS, your financial support to our ministry is key to our everyday work. Not long ago a member stopped by the office to ask me a clarification on the Prayers of the People response we had the previous Sunday: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” For me it means something simple; I believe whole heartedly in what the Lord says in scripture, but when I am challenged with this verse from the prophet Malachi 3: 8 – 10: Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me – the whole nation of you! Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” I believe that the Lord wishes to bless me a hundred fold as is promised here. But, my unbelief comes into play when I fight the command of this passage to tithe – to give 10% of the first fruits of my labor to the Lord. I say, “but I have bills to pay and other charities to give to.” The Lord responds back to me that it is good to give to other charities, but if I do not give to God the 10% of the first fruit of my labor I am missing out on blessings, overflowing blessings. It took me a great deal of time, but I need those blessings and so for the last 30 years of ministry I tithe to the Lord the first fruit of my labor back to the ministry of God in whatever parish I am minister in. And the truth is, the blessings are overflowing.
Please join me in trusting this promise of God. When you receive your pledge card this year, do not automatically put down the same figure you’ve written in for the last 5 years, increase your amount by 10% if possible. So if you give $52 a year, that would mean you give $57.20 this year. If you give $100 a year, that means you give back to the Lord $110 this year.
If you’ve never pledged because you don’t want to make a commitment to giving, please know that we need you as part of our team, your pledge, no matter the amount. Whatever it is you might put into the alms basin every week or month is a good place to start with pledging. So if you throw a $5 bill in every week that means you can pledge $250 to start off. The Lord, and this parish, needs your support. Please, seriously pray about this type of promise to the Jesus and his ministry in this place.
Does that mean sacrifice for me? Sure, that might be one dozen less donuts a week, or two Starbucks a week, or a pack of cigarettes a week, or a 6 pack of beer, or just name the sacrifice. We are doing great things here and your partnership is essential. Believe in the Lord’s promise, and may the Lord help our un- belief in that promise.
Fr. Denis +