Saturday, September 24, 2011

St. Sergius

Tomorrow is the feast day of St. Sergius (d. 1392). Because tomorrow is Sunday, his feast will not be celebrated, so this blog celebrates him today.

The collect, that is, the prayer for this day is:
O Most Holy God, you call us to turn away from worldly wealth and to follow you in love and obedience: Give us grace to follow the example of your servant Sergius of Moscow, whose gentleness of life and faithfulness to his native Russia inspired many to commit themselves to a deeper spiritual life in the midst of troubled times; through our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sergius had a special devotion for the Holy Trinity. Thus, the icon pictured to the left of the article linked above bears in the upper left hand corner the Trinity as depicted in the icon by Rublev.

I mention Sergius today because in western Christianity, this season, autumn, the season of harvest, is also the season of stewardship for the churches.

Stewardship has come to mean time to pledge your money to the church you attend, for the spread of the word of God, to keep the building open, and to support the priest/minister and programs.

Stewardship, however, reflected in the life of St. Sergius, is so different. It was about using his gifts and talents of scholarship, poverty, love and devotion to the Trinity to draw all people to Christ Jesus. His preference was for the solitary life, but he recognized God's call when people began to be drawn to live with Sergius the life he had given to God. Hence, stewardship of his life was, for Sergius, a giving over of his desires for the sake of the Gospel.

To the churches I say, stop your pledge campaigns. You all of you know what is needed is you want your church to stay open, to have clergy, and to do whatever it is you are doing in your individual congregations to serve Christ. Therefore don't waste your time reminding one another that nothing you own is yours; it is all on loan to you by God for the work of God's mission in the world of reconciliation, restoration and transformation. Don't waste your time telling one another how much it costs to run a church so give until it hurts. All that is a waste of your time.

Instead, consider how your life is being spent. Consider how your life reflects Christ Jesus to the world. Consider how you use what God has lent you to feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned and lonely, heal and sustain the unemployed and underemployed, and restore yourself and all you know and don't yet know to wholeness with God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And I tell you right up front: I for one fall woefully short on all counts. May God have Mercy on me, and on us all.

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