Stewardship Season 2022-2023

Dear Holy Apostles,

Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s hard to believe that Autumn has again arrived! With Fall, comes many beautiful things – changing leaves, school year routines, Eagles football (see I’m learning) – also, every Fall at Holy Apostles we celebrate our annual Stewardship Season. Stewardship Season is a time of reflection on the gifts that God has given us and how we will use those gifts – both individually and collectively as members of the Body of Christ – to glorify God and further the good work that God has given us to accomplish. 

The theme of this year’s Stewardship Season is Lives of Thanksgiving. I was inspired by a beloved hymn, “There’s a wideness to God’s mercy,” (Hymnal 1982 #470) which in the last stanza proclaims:

For the love of God is broader than the measure of the mind
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind
If our love were but more faithful, we should take him at his word
And our life would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.

What an extraordinary challenge: if we love more faithfully, if we take God at God’s word, our entire life would naturally and effortlessly be dedicated to giving thanks. It is a truism in the field of psychology and human behavior that being grateful makes you a happier person. It also makes you a better Christian. 

That is the task that I offer you this Autumn. Between now and Thanksgiving Day, spend intentional time examining all the things in your life for which you are grateful to God, along with those things you should be grateful for, even if you aren’t always. Recommit yourself to a more faithful love. Find ways in your daily life to take God at God’s word, to stand on the promises that God has made to you. 

Real thanksgiving is not static. The crazy thing about gratitude for the blessings you have is that it makes you want to give what you have away. A big part of living a life of thanksgiving is to understand that when you hold too tightly to your blessings they become curses. When you grasp too tightly at your worldly possessions, they grasp too tightly to you and you are no longer free. Our possessions so easily become shackles and chains instead of good and useful things that bring us delight. Gratitude initiates a flow, which keeps blessings blessed, and which keeps worldly possessions in the right order of affection in our hearts. Gratitude helps create freedom and space so that we can enjoy the world rightly. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Scripture reminds us.  As we head into the holiday season, this dictum is our guiding star.

Which brings us back to Stewardship season. Holy Apostles is a place where giving and gratitude are woven into the very fabric of who we are. Even the architecture, every pew, the windows, the books in the church, so many things we use and touch in our church were given in gratitude to God for the blessings of life, or in thanksgiving for the life of a loved one who has passed to their eternal reward.  But, it certainly doesn’t stop at our building. This past year, Holy Apostles has contributed month after month to the Darby Borough feeding program, where our generosity, given in thanksgiving to God, has helped to feed approximately one hundred and fifty people every month. That is truly something to be grateful for, and that is just one example of the many ways that our generosity as a parish supports the wider community. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. 

We celebrate Stewardship season as a time to think about how we can offer the gifts and resources we possess so that together Holy Apostles can continue to do the work that God has given us to do; so that we can continue to gather and give thanks to God for the goodness of Creation, week after week. During this time of consideration, when we think of how our whole life can be a life of thanksgiving, please consider pledging to give abundantly and generously to the Parish of Holy Apostles. You make your pledge by filling out and mailing in a print pledge card, by placing a pledge card in the offering plate on Sunday morning, or by filling out a digital pledge card on Realm.

Give as an act of faithful love. Give as an act of gratitude. Give knowing that blessings are fluid and dynamic.  Keep the dynamism of God’s blessing moving and you’ll find that you will be blessed exceedingly, over and over, pressed down, shaken together, flowing over, beyond what you could ask or imagine. 

Thanks be to God, and thanks be to each of you who support this parish family and do the life-giving work of God’s Kingdom. 

In Christ,

The Rev. James R. Stambaugh, Rector