Posted on 06 Nov 2017, Pastor: The Rev. Sean Leonard
One of the parts of the New Consecration Sunday program is the pastor’s sermon the week before New Consecration Sunday. So today I will give you the pastor’s sermon.
I want to start by saying a few things that I truly believe about God and some things I believe about this church, St. Dunstan’s.
The first thing that I believe is that God doesn’t need my money, and God doesn’t need your money to do what God desires to do.
In the beginning God clapped his hands and all that we know came into existence—the sun and the moon, and the planets and animals and the oceans—everything came into being because God willed them into existence—so God doesn’t need my money or your money to get done what God needs to get done.
Second, and I may get myself in trouble, but again I believe this is true– this church will not go under if I don’t give and it won’t go under if you don’t give this year-we are not that fragile economically—This last year we lost some of our largest givers –as a matter of fact we lost the largest giver—guess what we aren’t going to go under—now that doesn’t mean that the vestry won’t have hard decisions to make depending on the results of the stewardship campaign, but we are not going under.
Third I believe that we will have all the resources we will need to do the ministry to which God is calling us. We will have the money, the manpower, the talent to do just what God is calling us to do over the next year.
So why do we give? why do we open up our wallets, why do we pull out our checkbooks if the church isn’t going under and God doesn’t need our money and we will have all that we need — why do we give?
I believe we give because it is part of the fabric of who we are as disciples, followers of Jesus— We follow the example Christ—I -believe that part of my discipleship is expressed in my generosity. We don’t give to the church because the church needs to raise an operating budget but we give cause we are generous people and we are invited to join God in God’s work and that’s what our gifts are joining God in God’s work.
I also believe that there is something in us spiritually that needs to share, that we become better people when we give ourselves away.
The crux of the Consecration Sunday program is not about a fundraising effort to get to the operating budget, to raise 300,000 dollars but rather the crux of the program is an invitation to dive spiritually into giving and centers on this one question.
What is God calling me to give? What is God calling my family to give? Part of being a disciple, part of being a follower of Jesus means that God gets a say in the important stuff— God gets a say in the direction and trajectory of our lives—God gets a say in how we share what we’ve been entrusted with.
I have to be honest it’s scary when God gets a say. Cause at least in my case when I gave God a say I ended up with a white collar around my neck– In the case of the Consecration Sunday—I find it scary –Cause I have a feeling God may ask me to be a little more generous than I might want to be or think I can be.
For years I subscribed to the idea of proportional giving, giving a percentage of one’s income . For years Chrishelle and I would try to give a little bit higher percentage of our income as we worked toward the tithe of giving away 10% of our income. And for years that worked— we would get our pledge card and adjust our pledge upward ever so slightly–the last couple years though we got a little bit derailed with some transitional financial sorts of things.
But believe it or not I have never seriously considered that question at the heart of New consecration Sunday-what is God calling me to give?
I have not really ever prayed over my pledge or gift. Now I am a little bit nervous about where this may come down. Over the last week or so, I am beginning to sense that God might want me to grow a step or two in my giving.
So my invitation to you today is to take this question seriously and ask God the question? It’s a spiritual question cause it gives God a say in the direction of our lives.
There may be some who are sure about this pledge card thing-—let me first say somethings about that—first we are not calling it a pledge any longer—we are calling it an estimate of giving cause that is really more of what we believe it is—an estimate of what someone will give. The word pledge at time seems to connote an obligation –let me tell you this I don’t see it this way, the vestry doesn’t see it this way. We look at pledge cards, or estimate cards and see them as you saying this is about how much I expect to give to St Dunstan—I also want to say-we understand that things change-people lose jobs, people get sick and sometimes we just can’t fulfill what we said at the beginning of the year.
Let me assure you that we do not have Guido with a baseball bat who’s going to come out and break your legs—no one comes after you if you don’t fulfill your pledge/estimate of giving.
If you’ve been hesitant to fill out a card—I invite you seriously to consider if God might be calling you to simply fill out an estimate card.
I would like to end with a proverb I found this week— The proverb says this–
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track. 
I have to end by saying this when I have trusted God and listened to God voice—some of the most amazing things have happened to me—I have found a vocation that I ]absolutely adore and fits me to a tee. Because I have listened —I have met and come into relationship with the most amazing people and you St. Duntan’s are part of that and to think that had I not listened and missed out on the depth of relationships I have had—that makes me pause.
I truly believe that when we ask God, “God what are you calling me to do”—only good things happen when we are obedient to that so —I invite you to listen for God’s voice in the midst of your prayers and then I invite you when you get an answer to trust God from the bottom of your heart—trust that you will have all that need and please remember that in everything God is holding you in the palms of his hands and that God will lead you to amazing places and amazing people.