MESSAGE FROM OUR VICAR
We strive to know Christ more deeply and bring others to his redeeming grace.
ST. BEDE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
1609 Elm St. Forest Grove, OR
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains." (1 Timothy 6:10, NRSV)
A few weeks back I asked in a sermon, what we would bid farewell to free the hands of our hearts, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. Then I asked people to write this on sticky notes and attach them to the wooden cross, now in the south solarium of St Bede’s nave.
Below is a “word cloud” representation of what we would bid farewell. In case you are unfamiliar with word clouds, they create pictures of text by making more frequent responses larger and less frequent responses smaller.
The biggest response was false Gods, with fear, control, and popularity
coming in a close second. Money concerns, prosperity, and possessions
are also listed as things to which we would bid farewell to take up our
cross. Money can become a false God in itself. Notice that the passage
from Timothy from our lectionary for September 29 above, says that the
“love of money” is the root of all kinds of evil. It doesn’t say that money
is the root of evil as it is often misquoted. Money is a gift that becomes
an obstacle held outside of the love of God. It is no wonder we have
been talking so much about money in our lectionary reading given its
propensity to create havoc and, in the words of First Timothy, “pierce us
with many pains.”
It reminds me of the challenge of living with fame and fortune that many celebrities face. One morning Wade and I were watching an interview with a famous celebrity. The bulk of the interview was taken up with the celebrity’s legal concerns for a producer, who allegedly cheated her. Her energy spent on what people were taking from her left little joy for other gifts, relationships, and the opportunity for a successful career. She appeared to lack gratitude and seemed focused on fear of pecuniary loss.
Perhaps inordinate love of money (or greed) is based on fear. Maybe we fear that God will not provide for us, so we set up false Gods. In the word cloud image above, fear was one of the other things we saw as an obstacle to become Christ’s disciples. In our Sunday adult formation last week, we learned from Brené Brown that joyful people practice gratitude rather than focusing on potential calamity. What if gratitude as a spiritual practice became an antidote for greed?
In conversation with our stewardship team this year we realized a synergy between congregational discernment and this year’s stewardship theme of gratitude. Our congregational discernment meetings are unveiling a wealth of gratitude for what God is doing through us and calls us toward in the future. Therefore, we are holding discernment and stewardship side-by-side for this year’s campaign, as they have great potential to inform our process of discernment and growth. For more information about stewardship please read the article in this newsletter by our stewardship chair, Laurie Baker.
As always, I am grateful for everyone at St. Bede and the opportunity to serve as your vicar!
Blessings all around!