Narrative for Theological Reflection on Stewardship - Vestry Retreat 2013
A boy grew up during the 1970s in a family that was solidly middle class but severely buffeted by the changing economy. During the oil crisis images of cars lining up for gas filled the television screen. His family traded in their Buick for a Volkswagen. At bedtime they heated up towels in the dryer to warm him and his shivering sisters. As a unionized worker in an industry that was feeling the effects of deregulation, his father worried constantly. At night the voices of his parents would rise from tense mumbles to loud yelling about lay-offs, seniority, bankruptcy, and job prospects. At the end of each month, his father would go to the hall closet and retrieve the basket, which held the bills and the checkbook. A dark cloud of tension oozed through the house. The boy and his sisters had learned to play quietly, if possible outdoors, on that day. When their father paid the bills, his mood was angry. He lashed out at anyone who stepped out of line. The whole house tiptoed on bill day.
As a young, newly married college graduate, he discovered that bill paying was somehow his task in the marriage. Oddly enough he found himself storing the bills in a basket in the hall. He put off bill paying to the last possible minute each month, and as the calendar turned, so would his mood from anxiety to anger and frustration. Endless distractions and procrastinations arose and he put off the dreaded event.
Even though they had two incomes and little debt he always felt under financial threat. Their first marital fight involved his use of some leftover wedding money to purchase some fishing gear. He did it without consulting his wife, and she took exception to his secretiveness and his inability to understand why she might be upset. Even though they were frugal, money remained a difficult topic for shared conversation.
After their first child arrived, the young man felt a renewed desire to find a church. When he and his wife started attending one they liked, he always brought some loose bills to chuck into the plate just as his parents had done. After a year or two of regular attendance the pastor asked if they would like to join the church and make a pledge. She explained the notion of proportional giving, or giving as a percentage of pre-tax income. The couple was fond of the church community and got the clear message that giving was expected. So they made their first pledge. An elder suggested that the young man write his pledge check first each month as “first fruits.” So he gave it a try. Over the months that followed he discovered that giving this money away changed his perspective on his resources and loosened his death grip on his finances. In fact, as he gave more away, he unexpectedly discovered that nothing terrible happened. His relationship with his money became less oppressive.
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist with music
10:00 a.m. Parish Forum & Kairos
10:15 a.m. worship.together
Holy Eucharist for families with young children
11:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist
Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.
We would love to have you join us.
This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.