Today is Thanksgiving Sunday. This is an opportunity for us as people and a community to pause and give thanks for the many blessings that have come our way this year. The people who have touched our lives deeply, the events and moments of grace that we have encountered in unexpected ways, we give thanks for them.
For me I give thanks for all of you who make St. Martin’s the wonderful community it is and I continue to be excited and grateful to be your Vicar! In particular I am humbled when I reflect back on the wonderful Italian dinner we experienced last week. So many people involved, so many hours spent, but in the end a memorable evening that was worth every moment. But it is more than the evening itself, what the Italian dinner showed for us, as in previous fundraising events, is the sense of community and the lives that are touched by St. Martin’s - all of us. We see this reflected in the donations to the silent auction, the sponsorship program where companies when asked, donate money to the church in the name of the event. They do this because they are inspired by the reasons we want to raise money for our church and the programs we offer. They do this because they are inspired by what we do and because . . . we ask . . . We simply asked for financial support. We cannot underestimate the power of asking and the impression we have in the community, or how much more influential we can be when we ask.
This week is the beginning of our annual Stewardship Campaign. And yes, like last year we will be hearing more about how St. Martin’s has inspired many of us. We will be asking you to consider your financial and volunteer pledges for this next year. How is God calling you to respond with the resources that have been entrusted to you? We will also be thanking you and thanking God for the many ways in which we as a community respond to God’s call in Upper Lonsdale and beyond.
Our theme this year, as with last year is: Inspire, Ask, Thank. So what does this look like? We have already received a taste of how we inspire the community through the sponsorship program. Through our theme we will be highlighting the Power of One. We are asking you to reflect upon how St. Martin’s has influenced you, as one person, in your life. We are asking you, as an act of thanksgiving and in response to how St. Martin’s has inspired you, to add one more role to what you are already doing in the life of the church.
Financially, as a response to how you are being called to use the resources entrusted to you, to consider increasing your financial commitment by 1%. Many of you have and continue to give above and beyond thereby sacrificially giving to the church. For this I am deeply humbled and thankful. We will be hearing more in the upcoming weeks of how important your financial support is to our parish. Talking about money is never an easy subject, but is necessary if we are to build healthy and sustainable Spiritual lives and practices.
Today on this Thanksgiving Sunday and in keeping with the practice of the Power of One we will take a moment now to reflect upon the person who has inspired you in your life. Who is that one person who has influenced your life so profoundly that you care to remember them today in church? While I am confident we can all name our husbands, wives and partners; I am wanting us to go deeper and think of someone else who is not your significant other. Our significant others are the easy way out. Take a moment to think of that person and then, when you are ready, write their name on the card that is in your leaflet. There are probably many people who have inspired you and influenced your life deeply. Try and think of the one person who you would like to hold before God and give thanks for today. Write their name down now.
Thank you for doing that. During the offertory I invite you to place your card with the name you wrote on it in the basket that will be passed around at the same time as the collection. As with the offertory, these cards will be blessed on the altar as we hold these special people before God and give thanks for all they have meant to us. Over the next few weeks these cards will be on display in the Narthex as a reminder to us, all of us, of the many people who have shaped our lives and helped us to be the people we are. While we hold before God one person, collectively they form a community of support to us and we to them.
Following the service as we are sent back into the world where God has called us, I invite you to get in touch with the person you wrote down today. Get in touch with them and tell them that you thought of them today in church. That you wrote their name down. Tell them why you wrote their name down. Tell them, even if it is the first or the hundredth time, how grateful you are to them and for how they have inspired and shaped your life. If the name you wrote down is someone who is not hear anymore, who has died, remember them in your prayers. Give thanks to God for them. Give thanks that they are now in a better place and you are a better person because of them and that we will be re-united with them.
It is important to give thanks to God for all these people because without them, without relationship or community, we cannot make it through this thing called life alone. We need them in our lives, just as much as others need you in their lives. We cannot underestimate how we influence the lives of others. We cannot underestimate or take for granted the Power of One.