Friday, May 30, 2008

Be Blessed: Be a Blessing

Stewardship Emphasis for 2008-2009

In the end
all any of us can say
is thank you.

Thank you
for your
generous giving
Thank you
for your
largeness of heart
Thank you
for your
Thank you
for your
Thank you
for your
to live
a life
blessed by God
that you, too
may be
a blessing.

—Laurie Rudel

Every generous act of giving,
with every perfect gift, is from God.
– James 1:17 (NSRV)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Be Blessed: Be a Blsesing

Stewardship Emphasis for 2008-2009

I came across some guidelines that offer three steps to tithing and thought you might be interested in them as well.

It has taken me many years to come to terms with giving money away with grace. Sometimes I slip back into possessiveness.

And sometimes I remember: open hands can receive as well as give—open hands can be blessed as well as be a blessing.
—Pastor Laurie

1. Become a First Fruits Giver
Whenever you receive money, give thanks by giving something back to God. Don’t worry about how much, just this FIRST, before all of your other spending.

2. Become a Percentage Giver
No matter how large or small, decide what percent of your income you want to give to God and begin doing it.

3. Increase As You Are Able
Pray often. Talk it over with God so that God can help you decide when to take risks and when to play it safe.

For reflection -

The Power of Jesus

You rise again
between us and among us
Power of Creation
Power of Salvation
Power of our power
Length of our eyes
Soundness in our ears
Calling in our mouths
Sureness in our steps
Concentration of our mind
Largeness of our heart.

—Mary Jo Leddy
Radical Gratitude

Every generous act of giving,
with every perfect gift, is from God.
– James 1:17 (NSRV)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Be Blessed: Be a Blessing

Stewardship Emphasis for 2008-2009

I’ve been thinking about how our giving to the annual budget forms the foundation of the life of our congregation. It is easy to overlook but it is our giving to the annual budget that makes everything else possible.

Our annual budget at Queen Anne Christian Church is like a three legged stool made up of pledged and unpledged giving, fees from building use, and money from our endowment fund.

Each leg of the stool helps us support the ministry of this congregation.

At this particular time it is to our advantage to strengthen our pledged giving. Increased pledged giving will help decrease our dependence on our endowment fund and give us needed breathing room to make decisions about our future with grace.
—Pastor Laurie

For reflection:

You are
the Still Purpose.

You come down
as snowflakes onto
the tops of the mountains.
You flow through the world
as streams and then
as mighty rivers rolling
toward the great ocean
of Your Love.
You sow seeds
of Your purpose
throughout the world
in all nations and peoples
and gather them up again
in Your due season.

You are Still Purpose
We begin in Your name
and end in Your name

—Mary Jo Leddy
Radical Gratitude

Every generous act of giving,
with every perfect gift, is from God.
– James 1:17 (NSRV)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Be Blessed: Be a Blessing

Stewardship Emphasis for 2008-2009

The word stewardship implies that we have resources to "steward." It implies that we have been given gifts to care for, to watch over, to give away.

Like many other congregations we frequently pair stewardship with our financial support for the annual budget of the church. This pairing is important but it narrows down stewardship to a relationship between us and our checking accounts!

As we begin the process of New Beginnings we would do well to reflect on the nature of all God’s gifts to us as individuals and as a community of faith.

What if in the week to come we made a list of all our blessings? What if we looked closely at the smallest things that bring joy to our lives? What if we came together and compiled our lists? Can you see it?

So many blessings stacked upon one another: would not this community truly be over-flowing with goodness and grace and gratitude? And then what?

Well, then we probably would have plenty to give away.

Once we know we are blessed then anything is possible.

For reflection:

We give You thanks
for You sustain us
with real food
and real drink.
You nourish us
with friends as real as food
with joy as clear as water
with love as good as this meal
this is enough.
We do not ask for more.
This is more than enough
reason to bless Your name
Make us always mindful of those
who do not have enough
food and friendship
water and love and joy.
Give them enough
that they may be thankful

—Mary Jo Leddy
Radical Gratitude

Every generous act of giving,
with every perfect gift, is from God.
– James 1:17 (NSRV)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Seeds of Compassion

A number of us connected to Queen Anne Christian Church attended some part of the Seeds of Compassion event in April which featured, among other world religious leaders, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Desmund Tutu.

The event was inspiring and invigorating. Here are three reflections—

blessings + peace, Laurie

Maria Drury—
Attending several session of Seeds of Compassion touched me deeply in ways I am still discovering. Our community has been deeply blessed to host such a gathering, as its effects will continue to ripple through each person and our very geography for a long time to come. As I sat in the sessions, I witnessed national and international “experts” in dialogue with wise people — in the form of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and youth who spoke wisely as they offered reflections and asked questions that many adults struggle to answer for ourselves.

I heard information and wisdom that I perhaps know already on some level, but it had renewed impact as I heard these ideas spoken with compassion in a space I had set apart from daily routine. I experienced community in the friends and family I sat with, and in the sense of a larger community brought closer together by gathering in witness to the importance of practicing compassion in its many facets — towards self, towards other, towards community, towards the world in which we live.

Just today Peter and I read a story in the sports section of the Seattle Times, in which two college baseball players carried an opponent around the bases after she injured her leg while responding to the only home run she would hit in her softball career. They ensured that team’s victory, but touched many more lives by displaying ultimate sportsmanship in such compassion. Whether or not those young women knew about the gathering in Seattle, their choice is linked in my own mind with what I witnessed at Seeds of Compassion.

I feel truly blessed by this incredible gathering.

Sarah Swanson—
I am still feeling inspired by the Seeds of Compassion and am hoping to incorporate some of what I heard to my everyday life. Laurie, after you pointed out the pennies for peace [this program supports the work of Central Asia Institute to bring school supplies to children in Afghanistan], I brought Julian, Tyler and Mia up to put some pennies in.

I was amazed how they responded with basically how come these children don’t have what they have and how can they help. I really underestimated how they would understand this concept because of their age, but what I am feeling now is that the time is now for my children to learn compassion and being socially responsible. Hearing from these great public figures that they learned compassion from their mothers was empowering—and I am ready to commit to do more.

Amy Graff—
I was struck by the first question to the panelists: When do you remember the first time you experienced compassion? Many of the answers were incredible; especially the woman who remembered that she was three when she first knew she made a difference in her family—she could make them laugh.

Another question they answered was when you have had a tragedy in your life, how did you deal with it and go on? One panelist suggested we draw on the infinite strength we have in ourselves.
The Dalai Lama explained that if there is sadness in our lives—and he took his fingers to twist a dial 180 degrees—then we need to create more happiness.