Diocesan Stewardship Prayer
God our Father, You are the source of life and every blessing. All that we have comes from You. Help us to walk in your ways as faithful disciples of Jesus. As good stewards of your many blessings teach us to receive your gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them in justice and love with others, and return them with increase to You, our Father.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, who came that we might have life, and have it abundantly.
The Catholic historian Gary Wills once defined Christianity in America as a battle between the head and the heart. On the one hand you have the rational faith of the founding fathers, Transcendentalists and the Social Gospel, and on the other you have the tradition of emotional spiritual renewal as embodied in the Great Awakenings, evangelicals, and charismatic movements. Both impulses play out over and over again in our history, says Wills.
But in the last twenty-five years, I would argue that American Christianity has moved away from the head and the heart to a battle between the tongue and the feet. The explosion of the internet, talk radio, and other interactive media has produced an endless stream of talking about religion. Sadly, most of this talking (and often yelling) has involved explaining why the speaker is right and everyone else wrong about matters of faith and church.
The result of all this chattering has been the diminishment of the religion of the feet, of going out and living our faith in meaningful ways. Why participate and risk the wrath of the tongues ready to dissect your every action and to call any gesture into question?
Jesus had the same problem. His every act of mercy and grace met with a choir of tongues happy to inform him of what was wrong his behavior, his ministry of the feet. Healing a man with a life-long physical disability? Sorry it’s the Sabbath (Matthew 12). Having your busy feet anointed in an act of sacrificial love? What a waste of the budget (Mark 14, Luke 7). Going out to eat with tax collectors and other low-lifes? We don’t even know where to begin (Matthew 9).
By Jane Rutter
Director of Stewardship and Planned Giving
Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri
You never know where life will take you, how one opportunity or one decision will change the course you are on and render obsolete the singular vision you have adopted as the path to fulfill your purpose. This is the way of Jesus.
When he says, “follow me”, he is offering us the chance of a lifetime. Drop your nets - whatever it is that scoops you up and catches you in its clutches – and begin this great adventure of awakening the Spirit of God in those you meet. Come walk the dusty roads, come knock on doors, come offer Light to all.
There is a stirring in our souls that yearns to be called, to be inspired, to throw out all the useless stuff we have gathered and time we have wasted and say “Yes” to Christ. “Yes, I will come and follow you. I am done possessing. I am finished with time. Come and fill my anxious, tired heart. Let me give as you have.”
Experience of God is about extremes because it is an experience of infinity. God’s love for us knows no bounds. Its highest expression, in physical terms, was the cross. It is interesting that the only way God could show us the height of his love and of his glory was through one of the lowest, cruelest forms of capital punishment ever devised.
Meditation on the cross has always been central to Christian prayer. One can never exhaust its meaning. The cross is extreme. It demonstrates a divine life laid down for people whom Jesus called friends, not slaves. It was laid down freely, willingly, out of love, by a compassionate God in order to free humans from the trap of sin that they had set for themselves. The crucifix is central to the liturgy. Every altar must have a crucifix. It can be placed on the altar, be the processional cross or be on the wall behind the altar. It serves as a reminder of what we are celebrating at the altar, the sacrificial death and resurrection that redeems us and calls us to everlasting life with God. Created in God’s image, we are called to the same extremes of love. The spontaneous compassion we feel for suffering people around us is but a sign of that divine spark that ignites our hearts and motivates us to act. That is part of our human nature. However, our Christian faith impels us beyond that spontaneous human response toward a more divine one.