Stewardship Temple Talk
July 15, 2018
Greetings from Trinity’s Stewardship Committee, which consists of Paul Maatta, chair, Sue Rasmussen, who is our liaison with the Church Council, Dennis Ingersoll, Janet Kittlaus, and me.
As we five have discussed whether or not the campaign that now has been launched should have a name, and if so, what the name should be, one suggestion that was offered is “Renewing Trinity”. The rationale is that this name easily fits with the ELCA’s now familiar, self-defining slogan, “God’s Work. Our Hands.”
Being Lutheran Christians, we clearly recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who is at work here, renewing and directing the renewal of Trinity Lutheran Church of Des Plaines.
As Luther wrote in his Small Catechism (in explanation of the Creed’s third article)—whenever I confess faith in the Holy Spirit, I mean that “by my own understanding or effort I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead [that] the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy, and kept me in the true faith, just as [the Spirit] calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it [united] with Jesus Christ in the one common [and] true faith.”
The renewal of our congregation that is happening(!) surely is God’s work...toward which—in support of which—we and others of Trinity’s members and friends are committing our hands.
As has become evident over the past two months, we have many reasons for being
grateful for and energized by the Spirit’s working among us and in us, for instance:
The commi tments of time and talents that were made at our Ministries Fair on June 3 and thereafter,
the ready and comparatively easy filling of all twelve seats on our ChurchCouncil,
other members’ stepping forward to assume additional, important roles (Communion Ministers is but one example) and to share their gifts, expertise, interests, and experience (in matters, such as hospitality arrangements and building and grounds care and maintenance) [along with some members’
continuing to do what they long have done],
people’s generous in-kind donations to save Trinity’s budgeted monies,
the offering and implementation of ideas and efforts that are new to Trinity (such as third-Friday-night bingo, which brings to our building and among us some persons who otherwise might never have come here),
the return to worship of some members whom we have not seen for a while (even for a number of years!),
the increased time that the sharing of the Peace sometimes takes (as worshipers are moved to circulate and greet more people),
five of our teenagers’ affirming their baptism and the baptisms of a number of our children, and the early results of the financial commitments for which we’ve asked for the remainder of this year.
Thanks to you for all of these! And thanks to the Spirit for renewing our spirits, our relationships, and our commitments to Trinity’s ministry and mission. Surely even more good results will come!
We are witnessing and contributing to the renewal here of the aptness of the analogy which the apostle Paul drew and elaborated in two places in his letters (at Romans, chapter 12, and First Corinthians, chapter 12). In a number of key respects, Paul told the recipients of these two letters, the church is analogous to the human body. Like the body, the church has many members, all of which have different functions, given the Spirit’s having gifted them with differing gifts, and all of which (as they are used) contribute to the common good, the good of the whole, which (in the case of the church) is the good not only of the believing community, but the good also of the mission for which God ever calls and equips its members, namely, witnessing boldly to God’s love for all that God has created, acting in solidarity with those who are suffering, serving the poor, and striving always for justice and for peace.
Just last Sunday, someone said to me, “I sense a new spirit and new energy at Trinity”.
My response: “I agree”.
Stewardship snippet—It is our duty and our joy—what?
The Great Thanksgiving has the words, “It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise...”
The phrase “our duty and our joy” catches our attention.
Duty and joy? A paradox? But of course Lutherans love paradoxes: saint and sinner, law and gospel, set free yet slave of all.
Duty is a task that must be done with or without our enthusiasm. Joy would indicate something we are really happy to do. How do we reconcile these two?
But don’t we see that the paradox is true? We know that all we have is gifted to us by God. And we, as stewards manage God’s good gifts so that all we do is to be in accord with good management of those gifts. But when we come to setting aside our treasure for the work of God through the Church, we find it is not easy to allow the Holy Spirit to challenge us to be bold in our giving. It would be nice if giving were easy. But that’s not always the case. Giving requires struggle and a recognition of duty.
But then what joy there is in knowing that our gifts benefit others: through LSSI, through Lutheran World
Relief, through Disaster Response here at home and throughout the world, through World Hunger and
Lutheran World Federation: responding to the needs of people whether it be building wells or organizing
refugee camps. What joy it brings to know we are helping so many people with their various needs, both here in Des Plaines and beyond.
So we invite you to struggle as you pledge anew to God’s work through Trinity. And remember: it is your duty—but also your joy.
Your Stewardship Committee