When it was determined that I would be giving today’s talk on stewardship, I asked the stewardship committee for their prayers. They’re generous people so they also emailed me some advice. I was a little bit confused when I received Joan Connor’s email which said “less is more.” Well, I thought, that’s an odd slogan for a stewardship drive. But then I realized that she was talking about how much I should say and how long I should talk, not the theme I should address. You really do have a thoughtful and smart stewardship committee. And I don’t plan to speak for long this morning because we are all about to participate in something profound and fundamental. In a few moments, we will be welcoming Donovan in baptism as a member of our congregation at St. David's, a member of the diocese of Maine, and as a member of the Episcopal church. In participating in Donovan’s baptism, we recognize that we are all here together today because someone believed and supported us in our relationship with God before we could believe for ourselves. It is likely that adults and children we never met were present at our baptisms and uttered the same words we will say on Donovan’s behalf this morning so that he too is embraced and strengthened by our community. In his baptism this morning, we will profess what we believe and that we will do all in our power to support Donovan so that as he grows he can be nourished by the love of Christ and can then turn around to be Christ in the world. And we will do this by reciting the baptismal covenant. If you look at the baptismal covenant it starts with what we believe. But then it transitions to what we will do. And what we agree to do in many of these vows is really all about stewardship. In a few moments, you will be asked: Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, in the prayers? So what are we being asked here? Are we being asked to agree with some mysterious unknowable activity? No. If we were to re-write this as we practice it at St. David’s it might read: Will you continue in educating our members through Sunday school, Rite 13, and adult Christian formation, host pay it forward meals, coffee hour, and hands across our community, and support our clergy and pray? That’s stewardship. Consider another baptismal vow:
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
If we look at #6 of Father Rigall’s Top Ten Principles of Stewardship it reads:
As stewards we are being called to do all that we can to further the Kingdom of God: God’s reign of justice, righteousness and peace throughout the world.
Same thing – right – stewardship.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons loving your neighbor as yourself? Look at this from another perspective - haven’t we received the benefits of stewardship from those who have loved us? This beautiful building , the pews in which you are sitting, the altar where we will gather together to take communion are all here because the members of St. David’s before you saw the potential for Christ in each other, loved all of us as themselves, and practiced amazing stewardship. And now, because of what we believe, as stated in the baptismal covenant, we are being called to do the same thing. And then comes my favorite part of the baptismal vows. Consider the answer we will give: I will, with God’s help. I love that because it’s so honest. If we don’t have God’s help, the chances of us doing any of the things that we say we will is measurably low. We are human, frail, distracted and plagued by doubt. And for me, and maybe for some of you, one of the times I can be frail, distracted and plagued by doubt is when I sit down with my pledge card for St. David’s. I’m not sure if I have doubt because I can’t see all that I have been given, or if I suffer from a crisis of faith that I won’t have enough. But then I realized maybe something I have been missing is that when I sit down with my pledge card, I am only thinking about what frail, distracted, doubt- plagued me can do – that I am forgetting that really the answer to the call for stewardship is: I will, with God’s help. So, I appreciate being present to celebrate Donovan’s baptism today because the baptismal covenant reminds me:
Of what I believe;
Of the tremendous stewardship of people who believed for me before I could and supported me in baptism;
Of Christ as he appears in all of you;
Most of all I appreciate being reminded that when I sit down with my pledge card this year, and am asked to answer the call to practice stewardship I know that I can answer: I will, with God’s help. And it’s possible that if we were all to consider responding in that way, we will be honoring our baptismal vows and what we believe and continuing the tradition of practicing amazing stewardship at St. David’s. Because I truly believe that we can, with God’s help.