This Sunday we will gather for the first of four consecutive Sundays that will make up our Annual Giving Campaign- the time of year that we speak as clearly and passionately as possible about the joy of responding to God’s love in our life through making a commitment to support the ministry we share in the year ahead.
You will be receiving a letter from me in the mail later this week which will include a tri-fold brochure highlighting some of our shared ministry as well as a pledge card and the invitation to start thinking and praying about how you might want to respond to the invitation to make a “radically generous” pledge of your financial support for this coming year.
I have been thinking a lot this week about what I might say in this message on the eve of this important time in our collective life. And what I have come down to is two competing thoughts. On the one hand I hate talking about money, and on the other hand, for the first time, I feel absolutely committed and comfortable talking about why our financial commitment is so important to our spiritual growth as a tangible expression of who and how God is calling us to be in the world right now; so watch out!
I have been going to church off and on all my life. As a young child we attended First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor and were involved in many different ways. I sang in choir, learned how to do Bible verse drills in Sunday school, and developed meaningful relationships that have continued into my adult life. It was a significant, and formative time for me.
Then as a young adult I “out-grew” church. No longer did it feel like something I needed or wanted. And for years I felt the church wasn’t interested in me either. I came out when I was 18 yrs old and the church didn’t know what to do with me and I certainly didn’t know what to do with the church! I had questions and needed to be seen and heard for who I thought God wanted me to be, and yet I was clearly different, and I could not find a place to belong. That went on for years and it was only through the gift of music that eventually, though reluctantly, I found my way back.
There is of course much more to the story between then and now, but suffice to say, something compelling brought me back and got me to say “yes” to God, and here I am as your priest today. In short, I believe God searched me out, tracked me down and wouldn’t let me go until I yielded to the power of love circling me back to my roots and my heart’s desire to be known and healed and loved.
During the next 4 Sundays I will be encouraging each of us to ask why we have claimed Trinity as our place of becoming and belonging. What is it in our story that has brought us here to this time and place.
Our theme of “radical generosity” implies so much more than just a desire for a successful financial annual giving campaign. My hope and prayer is that it will convey and then describe who and how we want to live as a faith community in downtown Toledo.
My vision of our common life becomes increasingly clear each time I am engaged in conversations with our neighbors. In other churches, in coffee shops, in local agencies and in everyday moment when I take the time to ask and listen, I hear and see common themes- people who also yearn for robust civility, increased integrity, clarity of attentiveness and the desire to move past our small opinions and preferences in order to find common ground. Trinity will never be a perfect place because it is full of, well, us! But I believe without a doubt it can and will be a holy place- and by that I mean authentic and messy, and, committed to being, among other things, progressive, inclusive, creative and downtown. Come home this Sunday and tell us your story of why you can do no other.
May you never forget that you are loved.