“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
These words from the Book of James will be read next Sunday as we launch the stewardship campaign. We will celebrate, inexpensively- delightfully with croissants – hot, freshly-baked croissants. The campaign theme is short and easy to remember:
Love. Care. Give.
Next Sunday, on the tables set on All Souls Walk, will be bowls of honey, butter and jam. Love, Care. Give. Honey. Butter. Jam.
And we will each write on cards of hand-made paper from Boulder – paper made with seeds of wildflowers in the paper pulp. We will each write down something we LOVE about Saint John’s or something we CARE about that we do at Saint John’s or something we understand about how we GIVE ourselves away to each other at Saint John’s.
We will eat hot croissants. We will slather them with honey (some of which will come form our bees!) and we will slater them with butter – rich creamy butter, and we will slather them with raspberry jam – three tactile symbols of three of our inherited character traits. And we will write down why we exist: why we love, why we care, and why we give. And as we write down why we love, and why we care and why we give, we will draw near to God – because loving, caring and giving is what we were made for. Loving, caring and giving is what God does. Who God is. And we are made in that very image as lovers, care-ers and givers. So as we draw near to God, so God will draw near to us. For we are each other the way my parents are in my cells.
When we have written down our longings to love, care and give, we will live with those colored cards all around us for a few weeks. Then we will be given them back – but you will not get yours. You will get, rather arbitrarily, someone else’s card. And you job will be to plant that card- in soil- with its wildflower seeds – in your garden.
This way the seeds which grow next spring from these cards will be icons to the bounty of flowers we will all be growing as we spend the money we will pledge over the next few weeks.
It is important that we raise $1.4 million dollars in the next three months. I will work hard to make everything possible for success. But I can’t make people generous. They must do that work with their God. And if I fail then I fail. And if we succeed, then we succeed. But what much more excites me, is that by becoming people who love, care and give; we become the people who were were designed to be. And we draw closer to a God careening towards us with a desire to love us, care for us and give to us.
As the Canon Steward of Saint John’s, I must raise the money we need for mission. But I am not interested in making our congregation into philanthropists. That is their job and they will do it, or not. I am, rather, interested in helping us to midwife the conversation we must have about who we are and how we were made. Because if we do that well, the philanthropy will be released.