A letter from Mother Jeanine:
Greetings Parishioners and Friends of St. Thomas!
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because, apart from me, you can do nothing. You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” John 15:5, 16:a
In some very significant and harrowing ways, our lives are very different today than they were at the start of last year’s Stewardship Campaign. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives profoundly. As I write this letter, I am acutely aware that COVID-19 has de-stabilized the finances of many families and individuals. Prior to COIVD-19, St. Thomas had been experiencing financial challenges. COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges. As a community of faith, we need to tend to our relationship with money as much as we need to tend our relationships with God, one another, and our local community.
We are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement
Our Presiding Bishop penned this pithy proclamation. Bishop Curry surely considered the verse from John’s gospel which says Jesus is the Divine Vine and we are branches of this Vine. Our shared vocation is to branch out, extending the love of God in our corner of the world and to one another. During this season of the Stewardship Campaign, as a congregation and individuals, we need to assess what we are willing to do, to give, to sacrifice in order to be a vibrant, hardy branch…one which professes through word and action that we are followers of Jesus Christ, one which offers the love of God in Jesus Christ to our world and to one another.
“Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. Our participation in liturgy, our faith centers us in this fact. We gather to celebrate Holy Eucharist to proclaim the mighty love of God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We gather to celebrate Holy Eucharist to share the Bread of Heaven, to receive the Body of Christ. We gather to celebrate Holy Eucharist to pray for the life of the world and to enliven the world with presence of Christ. We have been created and commissioned to participate intimately in very life of God and to invite others to do the same. In so doing, we proclaim our utter dependence on God.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we connect in order to celebrate Holy Eucharist and practice our faith, it has not changed the deep, ancient structure of liturgy nor has it stopped us from:
- Celebrating Holy Eucharist on Sundays and Wednesdays
- Studying and discussing the scriptures on Tuesday evenings (Young Adults) and Wednesday mornings
(Gospel Lessons for Gospel Living)
- Praying for the needs of the congregation, the state, the nation, and the world
(Intercessory Prayer Group)
- Engaging in pastoral care
- Doing the work of managing the business of the parish
(Vestry, Finance Committee, and Stewardship Committee)
“And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (John 15:16)
When I look at who participates in these holy activities, I see the same small group of congregants. In this group, several folks engage in multiple tasks for the life of the congregation. When Jesus says “I appointed you” he meant everyone…as scriptural footnotes indicate, that you is plural, not singular. And Jesus didn’t say “I appointed you until age 70 or 80”….there’s no age limit on involvement, on doing the work of branching out and bearing fruit that will last. Yes, this takes intention, attention, and effort. But anything that is worthwhile takes intention, attention, and effort.
How willing are you to grow the branch of St Thomas with Jesus and with one another?
How willing are you to do what it takes with the grace of God to bear the fruit of love?
How will you contribute to this holy work?
Thank you for your prayerful consideration of the 2021 Stewardship Campaign,