Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stewardship Sermon for Rollstone Congregational Church

This is an assignment for my fundraising and grantwriting class with ANTS President, Dr. Nick Carter.  We were required to write a stewardship sermon for our (or a) church. We are not delivering these sermons, merely submitting them.  -Wil

Stewardship Sermon for Rollstone Congregational Church, Fitchburg, MA
My middle name is Daniel. I was named for my father, Daniel.  This is a photo of him. (Show photo) When I was born he was a mail carrier and he didn't much like going to church.  This is a photo of my parents on their wedding day. (Show photo) My grandparents on theirs. (Show photo). They, in contrast to my father, were involved in nearly every committee and club in this building.
My parents, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle.  They were all married in this church. They spent their spiritual lives building up this sacred space.  They participated in things like the Candlelight Club, on committees, attended fundraisers, donated to scouting, listen to sermons, participated in the sacraments.   Too much to possibly complete in one single adulthood, they surely built it for us.
Don't we owe it to them to maintain it in dignity?  Don't we owe it to them to continue living up to their ideals and goals for the future of this church and it's community?  Don't we owe it to them?
We do not.
They built us this space for a purpose.  But sacred space exists in no brick.  It exists in the chosen configuration of them.  They gave us bricks and glass, yes. But most importantly they gave us each other.
They built it so we would come.  They built it so we would be brought about into the world through a stable, sacred environment with love, and ethics, and fellowship.  They built a place through which we could answer our callings to serve.  They built it as a conduit to discover ourselves and our humanity.   They built it as a sanctuary.
But what is a sanctuary in today's world?  For millennia we have fled the temples in greater numbers and yet we have, in contrast to that move, incrementally increased the value of human life on the planet to statistically the most peaceful time in its history.  Check out Steven Pinker if you'd like to see his math on the subject.  It's quite comforting to learn that while we see more bloodshed than ever on TV it is not because it is happening more on the planet, it is simply because we know one another more now than ever.  We share everything now.  With our cell phones and cameras, we communicate every horror to one another and actively work to stamp out, and pray through our gaps in human compassion.  Likewise, we share our laughter and our talents, and our tears.
What is a sanctuary in today's world?  Where is our sanctuary?  Have we fled them? ...or are we taking them with us?  
The reason stewardship numbers are increasingly bad is because we are pumping money into old sanctuaries.  That is not say we should let the building crumble around us.  But the paradigm of sanctuary has changed.  Expanded.  And if we took a look at what now becomes a sanctuary most, we may find an answer quite different from my grandparents'.
I encourage you to give, yes.  I encourage you to put a portion of your time and "talents," both literal and biblically figurative, into the hands of your spiritual community as representatives of your spiritual desires.  But what are those desires?  Why are you here?  Are you getting what you came for?  Are you able to express your spirituality and need for human love here in this space?  Why or why not?
If you are here it is because you have a need.  This space is consecrated to fulfill that need.  Take what is offered and share what you are able in order to expand on what is available for you.  Get involved with this space and learn to receive its blessings.  For I believe in doing so, you will find your ability to give.  And through that process you will receive your anticipated return on investment. Perhaps quite a bit more.
So I ask you, what do we owe our grandparents?  What we owe them is each other.  For that is truly what they wanted us to have today.

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