“Have you pledged yet?” For both the clergy and the parishioner alike, that question is one that strikes an uncomfortable tone. We don’t like to talk about money, and in the Episcopal Church we are particularly uncomfortable talking about our faith so if you put the two topics together, well, all bets are off!!
Most often when I talk to people about whether they are going to pledge to their church’s annual financial drive the answer I get is something like, “I really don’t pledge, I prefer to give to the really important things when they come up.” I get that. All of us like to give to the glitzy and glammy things, the ones that have great before and after pictures, the ones that leave us with that really big feeling of accomplishment. Those “gives” are really important for us and for the people for whom our money makes a great deal of difference. But giving to your church’s, Holy Trinity’s, annual financial campaign is about something different, something deeper. It is about the ministry of presence, Christ’s presence here in this neighborhood.
I want to share a story with you, a true story, about keeping the lights on. I was up here on the hill working late a few days before Christmas. It was cold and the sun was quickly sinking from the sky, and the only lights on up here on the hill were the ones that chased away the dark outside my office windows. I watched as a car slowly eased its way up our driveway. Odd, I thought, school was closed, and I was not expecting anyone. Certain that whoever this was would just drive in and out, I returned to my work until I heard the gravel on the front drive. Leaving my office, I turned on the hallway lights and the light on the front porch and headed to the door. There I was met by a young man probably in his late 20s and a young, very pregnant woman. I asked if they were lost. I could see their car was loaded. No, they told me they were not lost, but they were looking for a place to park for the night. They had seen my light and thought that I might let them park in the church parking lot and sleep just for one night. I invited them in to sit down and I learned the story of how they were making their way to Texas, where a job and family waited and that they had just enough money to make the trip if they only stayed in hotels twice. I jumped on the computer and found them a room for the night and gave them a gift card to buy some food and some gas and ushered them back out and on their way. But before they left I heard him say, “Thank God, your lights were on.”
Thank God your lights were on. This is where the ministry of the church, this church, all churches, begins, with our presence in the world as the hands and feet, eyes and ears, the body of Christ to all who come in need. If we cannot pay the bills, the boring ones, like the light bill and the water bill, the electric bill and the trash collections, if we don’t have anyone to answer the phone or to sit with those who may have lost their way, then Christ is not present. Since 1712 Holy Trinity has been the light shining forth from this Holy hill, a beacon to illuminate the presence of Christ. We need your pledge to continue that work. If you have already pledged for 2017, thank you! If you have not I urge you to make a financial commitment today. It is only through your generous donations that we can keep the lights on.
Rev. Leslie M. St. Louis