One of my happiest memories from this wild and wonderful first year with you all at St. Clare’s happened at our annual meeting on Zoom, way back in January. During it, we had a time for sharing moments of joy and gratitude from the past year; we spent a long time naming staff and leaders who had stepped up, remembering creative ideas borne of complicated circumstances, and listing moments when the community’s resilience and vitality were palpable. I enjoyed watching everyone name all the gifts and energy, dedication and care that had gone into building up the community’s life over the past year. It was an expression of thanksgiving to God as well, for leading us through this time of so much change together.
Inspired by that moment, I’ve tried to keep up the practice of pausing and looking around during this year of so many transitions, and noticing how folks bring so many gifts to our common table, and how God gathers them up and uses them for good. People have shown up to steward the life of the congregation, and they have shown up for each other, in so many meaningful ways. From the crew of people who interviewed elders whom I wouldn’t get to meet at in-person services, to the amazing response to the effort to raise $10,000 in a week for the Native American Rights Fund, to the multiple people who showed up ready to volunteer so we could expand our children’s ministry program this fall—I could tell many stories of the abundant gifts that people have offered to each other this year.
We’re starting to enter a new era together, now that this first year of “new beginnings” is almost done. I feel our conversations here at St. Clare’s rightly beginning to move away from the years of transition toward what might be next for us together. Questions are starting to get clearer and discernment is beginning: What is God calling us toward? Which areas of our life together still need shoring up or tending? Which areas of our life are ready to grow? What is possible and sustainable for us to do together?
These aren’t easy questions, and they’ll take time for us to ask together in the months ahead. That kind of discernment about the future can seem daunting, as there is still so much about the future that is uncertain. But when I think about all the gifts we have, all the dedication and care and love and joy that has carried us through so far, I have overwhelming hope that God will continue to guide us in our discernment and in our life together, no matter what happens.
This season is a particular one of discernment about the future together. The vestry creates the budget for our organization, based on what each of us commits to give to build up the work of our church. Just as the church is made up of all of us, the measure of what we can dream about and create together is determined, at least in part, by what we offer during this season. I hope you’ll give prayerful consideration of what gift God might be nudging you to bring to the table. God has called each of you to this place at this time because the person God created you to be is needed here, and because the work we are doing and can do together is important, even crucial in a world that is longing for community, purpose, and love.
I’m far from the most important voice in this kind of discernment. The stewardship commission, along with the speakers we’ve already begun to hear from in our worship, will have more to say about what’s vital and growing in our midst, about what motivates them to give, and about what we might start to dream about together. I hope you’ll hear their words and be a part of imagining what wild and wonderful adventures God has in store for us in the year to come.
You can pledge online at www.saintclareschurch.org/pledge/. If you prefer to fill out a paper pledge card, please pick up a card at Sunday’s worship service or contact Karen Slagell. Our stewardship ingathering celebration will be on December 4.