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  • The Rev. Barbara Ballenger

Rector’s Note: All Hands on Deck – Contributing Time and Talent-11.9.23

During Stewardship season we pay a lot of attention to financial giving, estimating what we plan to contribute for the coming year. Last week in my Rector’s Note, I discussed some ways to do that prayerful discernment, as you “let the Spirit guide you.”

But overall, Christian Stewardship writ large is about taking wise care in the name of Christ – care of ourselves and our spiritual lives, care of one another, care of our parish plant, and care of the community we are in and the earth we are on. You can find it woven into the “duty of all Christians” in the Episcopal catechism: “to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God” (Book of Common Prayer, p 856).

Around St. Peter’s that “work, prayer and giving” is taking on wonderful new forms: A vibrant parish welcome team has formed with great ideas on how to help people stay connected with the parish. A new youth and teen ministry is developing on second Sunday evenings. Several parishioners have put together creative fund raisers for our boilers, such as the Blue Grass Concert in September, this past Saturday’s Trivia Night, and Wednesday bake sale at the polls.

And outside the boundaries of the buildings, our members bring the gifts God has given them to the community in so many ways. (Check out our Rolling Time and Talent Show YouTube playlist for examples from this year and last year and look for more of them on Facebook during Stewardship season.)

This is the time and talent of the time, talent and treasure equation that we talk about every Stewardship season. And discerning where that investment goes can be just as thought provoking as figuring out the financial side.

Naming your gifts

Deciding how you answer God’s call to discipleship at St Peter’s and beyond benefits from prayer, discernment and little bit of assessment. Often it starts with someone asking you directly to get involved with a project or program. But sometimes it involves paying special attention to the little voice prompting you to take a step in a certain direction. Other times it requires sifting through a lot of interests to find the one that fits best and doesn’t overwhelm.

Last year at about this time, I shared this prayerful process for discerning time and talent. You can do this alone or with family members or friends. Have a prayer journal or notebook and pen handy to jot down ideas, or just use it as a prompt for musing.

Start with Prayer. Here’s a lovely prayer from the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer to help you enter a spirit of openness to God. As you pray this prayer, read each line and then pause for a few deep breaths as you let the words sink in deeply.

Loving God, I come to you in thanksgiving, knowing that all I am and all that I have is gift from you. In faith and love, help me to do your will.

I am listening, Lord God. Speak your words into the depth of my soul, that I may hear you clearly.

I offer to you this day all the facets of my life, whether it be at home, at work, or at school – to be patient, to be merciful, to be generous, to be holy.

Give me the wisdom and insight to understand your will for me and the fervor to carry out my good intentions.

I offer my gifts of time, talent and possessions to you as a true act of faith, to reflect my love for you and my neighbor.

Help me to reach out to others as you my God have reached out to me. Amen

  1. What images arose for you as you prayed that prayer?

  2. Make a list of the gifts, talents and interests that God has given you for the service of others. In addition to the ways you have served in the past, what new interests are emerging for you? What talents do you have that might not have been tapped in this way? If you are having this discussion with family members or friends, name one another’s gifts.

  3. Consider the time that you have to give this year and the energy you have. Perhaps you are new and looking for ways to get involved. Perhaps your level of time and availability and energy has increased or decreased. Perhaps life circumstances are calling you to scale back or to ramp up. Remember, saying no can be just as important in Stewardship as saying yes. Both are holy answers when they are done in a spirit of prayer and discernment.

  4. Visit St. Peter’s website to explore the various ministries that we are engaged in. What resonates with you? What have you done in the past that you want to keep doing? Does something new speak to you? Is there an urge for ministry that isn’t on the list, but might want some exploration? Have you been asked to consider a particular ministry? Pay attention to what gives you energy or makes you curious, and what makes you tired to even think about. Jot these down in your notebook as well.

  5. Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your calendar. Jot down in your journal or notebook how much time each week or each month you have available, when you tend to be available, and in what venue – in person, on zoom, alone, with others? Note whether your energy level right now is low, moderate or high.

  6. Make a pledge to yourself and to God to activate and celebrate your path of discipleship. It might be a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to continue in a ministry that you already do and love, or a prayer for the strength to let go of something that you no longer feel called to do. Perhaps the next step is talking to someone to learn more about a direction you’d like to explore. Maybe it’s making an appointment with me to talk further about ministry or discernment.

For me, discerning ministry and discipleship has always a complex mix of invitation, reflection, dreaming, scheming and checking in with those who know me best about what fits me, and what my energy levels really are.

In this time of All Hands on Deck, know that God calls us to what we are capable of, graces us with the gifts we need to make it happen, and understands that there are times when we need a pause to rest before embarking on the next new thing.

Blessings to you as you let the spirit lead you this Stewardship season.

Rev. Barb

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