Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Ah, fall in the Episcopal Church. The leaves begin to turn, the program year is in full swing, and everyone breathlessly awaits the rector’s annual stewardship sermon. Sometimes the rector speaks in vague generalities about “scarcity” and “abundance” hoping that the message will get through by osmosis and at others the rector takes a page out of Jerry Maguire’s playbook and goes with a more direct approach: “Show me the money!”
This year I’ve been thinking about stewardship in light of my new status as a ferret owner. Why ferrets? Good question. Obviously my boys were involved since owning a ferret was never a childhood fantasy of mine. In fact, if I was asked to identify a ferret in a police line-up along with some similar suspects – weasel, rat, wombat-- I doubt I would have correctly fingered the ferret.
But one of the characteristics of ferrets is that they exhibit hoarding behavior. They like to stash things away whether it’s food or socks or keys. The good news is that they tend to ferret things away to the same location every time. So if you can’t find your remote control, it’s likely to be found in the same place they stashed your left slipper.
Now, I don’t have such practical problems because it’s not as if we let them run amok in the rectory. They live in a mansion of a cage that is larger than married student housing at most seminaries. But as I’ve thought about our relationship to money in this context, one thing has become clear – it’s hard to be in a fruitful relationship with God when we act like hoarders. Money is ultimately a gift to be shared rather than a resource to be hoarded. A right relationship with God involves a generosity of spirit which can never be fully realized by literally or metaphorically hiding all your money under the mattress.
So that’s the message this year – don’t pledge like a ferret! And allow the abundance of God’s grace to both pour out of you and upon you.
The Rev. Tim Schenck is Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts. Visit him on the web at www.frtim.com where you can access his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”