For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.-- Matthew 6:21
by the Rev. Ralph F. Howe, Jr.
As we head into the time between All Saints Day and the seasons of Advent and Christmas, I am conscious of what is sometimes called the stewardship season of the church. Of course, when a church is trying to set up a budget for the upcoming year, it is imperative to have some sort of information so the finances of the church can be determined.
Stewardship, however, is not just about money. It is how we give of ourselves in every way, to honor God. Our actions, how we treat others, how we use our talents, how we help others, and how we use our money to pass on the faith, are all aspects of stewardship. Having said that, I was always bothered by those who said, “I give my time, so I don’t need to give my money.”
Growing up, I was always taught that money was not our own, but something given by God to live our lives, but also to spread the faith. So lately, I have been thinking about why I give the majority of my tithe to St. James Church and St. James Day School.
I give because I believe the message of the gospel to love. Whether my money is going to a child’s Christian education or to fix a leaky faucet, it is still going to the ministry of Jesus. I have loved this church my whole life. It is a part of me. Even when I lived in another town or another state, this church has been a part of me. I have watched the church go through Prayer Book changes, women’s ordination, a new hymnal, almost every issue possible, six different rectors, and a few interims.
I have noticed that the church is not perfect, and neither am I. I have watched a lot of craziness occur, but even more grace.
Every week, I have the privilege of staring into the face of children who may never hear the gospel, except in our chapel or in their classrooms. Monday and Friday Day School church services are, by far, our best-attended services (school or church). Parents come to be with their children for both services, and at the Friday Eucharist, we may have as many as 70 parents coming to worship. It grieves my soul when someone refers to our school as something separate from our church. I see it as a vital part of who we are and I see it as one of our most important ministries.
I give because I think we carry out what Christ asks us to do. We welcome those who may not be welcome elsewhere. We feed those who are hungry. We visit those in prison. We break bread together, and do it in remembrance of Him. We fall short, we sin, and we hear about forgiveness.
Every Sunday, I look out in the pews and see faces of wonderful new friends. I see the faces of people I have known and loved my whole life. I see people who think like me and those with different philosophies, different political persuasions, and different backgrounds. I see the richness of diversity in the Body of Christ.
I give because I don’t care whether people are just like me. I give because I believe we are to love each other, and we are all part of creation. I give because I am thankful that God has led me back to this place. I give because it is through my family and through this church that I have learned about love, and it is worth every penny I have ever given, and so much more.
-- Fr. Ralph
You may make your pledge using our online form, here, or download a pledge form here to put in Sunday's offering plate, or mail to P.O. Box 126, Baton Rouge LA 70821-0126. Keep the top portion to pray with thankfulness for God's grace on your and your parish family.