Sunday Reflection: Acts 9:36-43. One of the true joys of the Easter season is dwelling in the Book of Acts and seeing the immediate effects of the Resurrection upon the community of Jesus’ followers. We hear of people, at least men, who are filled with the Holy Spirit, and how they evangelize, prophesy, and build a community centered around the Holy Spirit. In this community, poverty is confronted with the sharing of wealth, hunger with the sharing of food, and death with resurrection. Those who are marginalized, like widows and orphans, are tended to by disciples like Tabitha. As we continue to reflect upon the Resurrection and how it might transform us and our communities, these stories help us to see where our own communities can be led more fully by the Holy Spirit.
However, this passage also encourages us to be more critical of both the text of Acts and of our own society, particularly around gender roles. A close reading of Acts shows that men and women are treated differently from each other, which would be expected, given the culture in which it was produced. The men are filled with the Holy Spirit and consistently do the “public” work of ministry by preaching, healing, and teaching; these are not roles that we see being held by women in this text. While we may react to that with frustration, anger, or acceptance, this text could also be an opportunity for us to ask where in our community’s gender roles are deeply entrenched and how we might be called to begin the hard work of building communities where gender roles are more equal. The message of Easter, particularly as exemplified in Acts, encourages us to look deeply at not only our individual lives but at our communities and how we might live more fully into a life filled with the Holy Spirit and to address—and dismantle—the cultural systems that hinder that journey. (From: Sermon That Works)
How can we continue working together as a faith community and serve people beyond our congregation? Does that service feed you spiritually? Does that service build those who are served up and incorporated into the ministry of the church?
Rector’s Corner: On Saturday, March 16, our parish participated in a Diocesan Conference focus on Stewardship. The day was filled with various plenary talks and workshops focused on sharing tools, practices and suggestions to help parishes grow in generosity and sharing. Here are some of the focal points of the conference:
- Capital Campaign to raise money to replace a church building. This multi-year project has resulted in pledges from more than 90% of the parish membership.
- Resources and ideas from a year-round stewardship program like annual schedule of stewardship focused activities, picking annual themes, resources used in the fall financial focus as well as a spring time/talent focus, and a narrative budget.
- Organizational approach like stewardship team diversity; link the stewardship team to the various ministry teams; ensuring there are regular stewardship homilies throughout the year; and ongoing parish stewardship education.
- A tactical facets of promoting Pre-Authorized Donations (PAD); sending a team to the annual diocesan stewardship workshops; and being accurate and timely in issuing tax receipts and thank you note.
- Creating a Culture of Generosity focused on the need to have a clear and explicit understanding in the parish of the link between our faith and our parish ministry so that people can feel ‘ownership’ of the ministry.
- Assess at whatever it is that a congregation is currently doing for stewardship and see what the ‘next steps’ would be to enhance it.
You can read a comprehensive report of this event by visiting the Diocesan website at https://www.vancouver.anglican.ca/news/celebrating-generous-congregations