In The Episcopal Church, we strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person.
Blessing of the Animals
A Message from Fr. Michael
Holy Eucharist Service
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church
3075 Bees Ferry Road
Charleston, SC 29414
Praise God from whom all Blessing Flow
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.
My grandchildren make fun of me for taking so long to get into a swimming pool. When I was their age, I too used to race toward the water with t-shirt, flip-flops, and towel flying, as I launched myself into the deep end. Let’s just say I’ve grown less exuberant with age. Similarly, when it comes to stewardship, we sometimes dip a toe into the water rather than taking the plunge. We tell ourselves, it’s safer that way; yet God wants all of us, not merely a portion or a percentage or a piece. That’s the essence of the Shema, the Hebrew prayer that forms the basis of Jesus’ Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
The word “all” binds together this ancient prayer. Jesus bids us to love God with all our heart and all our mind and all our soul and all our strength. This isn’t easy, of course, as there are lots of distractions and lots of options for expenditure of our time, talent and treasure. Loving God with all your heart and mind and soul doesn’t mean ignoring the practical realities of life. It means taking the time to be aware of God’s presence not just on Sunday morning, not just when it’s convenient, but in the very midst of life, everyday and everywhere.
In the context of faithful stewardship, this doesn’t mean God wants all our money. Rather God wants all of us – heart, mind, and soul – and when we give our all to God, our financial resources naturally return to the God from whom all blessings flow.
Returning a portion of what we have is recognition that we are simply temporary stewards of our resources. God’s gifts were in the world long before we arrived and will remain long after we’re gone. With regard to stewardship, you may be in a place in your life where you enter the pool slowly and deliberately or perhaps with wild abandon. Most of us are somewhere in the middle as God beckons us into ever-deepening relationship.
Regardless of how, what is important to my grandchildren is that I do eventually get into the pool. When the grandkids complain I’m taking “forever”, I remind them that while taking the slow route can be painful (slowly adjusting to water temperature), that eventually I find myself just as fully immersed as those who took the initial plunge all at once. However we arrive at being fully immersed in stewardship, God rejoices!
And rejoicing is what we will do the next four Sundays, as we worship and explore the possibilities God has in store for us and how we can join the Holy Spirit in making those possibilities become realities. Following a full Eucharistic celebration with Holy Communion, using a modified Liturgy taken from the New Zealand Book of Prayer and the Enriching Our Worship series, we will explore thoughts and concepts expressed by Adam Hamilton in his book titled, Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity, with an eye on our future; pairing new expressions of ministry, with inherited expressions.
The realties that we confront, we must acknowledge as blessings, as opportunities. God never promised it would be easy, but he did promise we would never be alone. He did promise that he would be forever standing by our side, forever carrying us through the tough patches. He did say was that in every season of brokenness, he would bring us hope, strength, and truth. Give, and it will be given to you. Luke 6:38