One of the things I notice about myself when I rest is that I can see things in a different way. And more than anything else, I notice that I notice flowers. The old adage “stop to smell the roses” is true.
It is hard to tell why I was not born in Somalia or an eskimo village. I do not understand the way God makes choices and do not for a moment believe that the inequalities in the planet among humans is anything other than the result of human greed. But for some reason, I am privileged to have been born into a free society and into a place and time with the resources to provide me with food, housing and even money for some of life’s luxuries. I earn enough money to pay my bills and to enjoy some luxuries like the companionship of a dog, the ingredients for good meals and the comforts of a soft bed in a climate with cool nights and bright days. I have the kind friends I need; and care deeply for them and they for me. I have not enough, but rather much more than enough. And I give away 10% of my income to the church off the top as a symbol that I understand the situation in which I live. I understand that the symbol of my gratitude is my investment into the church; which I believe has the capacity to do good in the world because I have made that investment. I believe our church deserves the money. I do not believe that of every church or diocese but I believe that of ours. $10,000 is a lot of money to give away to my parish and to the larger church. I deserve to be sure that I have made a good philanthropic investment.
But I have compassion for people who struggle with their giving, which is why I have chosen the ministry of resource development in the church. The work I do is not to raise money for mission – that is a side benefit. And the work I do is not to raise people for the church’s human resourcing – that too is a side benefit. And the work I do is not to host a conversation which results in the longings of the people being heard and infusing mission with life and love – even that is a side benefit.
My work as a priest – like that of every priest and every baptized Christian, is to see the drop of cool water on a flower petal as we pass by, and be amazed by what God has done for humanity and all of life on this planet in this cosmos. First of course, I must be able to stop and see these details. I must have a rule of life which slows me down and roots me to the daily experience of the Glory of God through this planet’s life. I try hard to see God in the church and often do, but I never have to work very hard to see God in an image like the one in today’s blog. It is only by seeing God’s glory in the simple beauty of the planet that the rest happens.
We do not raise funds for the church with big crosses, candles, stewardship campaigns and pledge cards. We raise money for the mission of God, in this time, by reminding each other of all of that for which we might be grateful. When that happens, we have trouble keeping track of the money, the people and the hopes we raise.