Beloved People of St. Martin’s:
May the graciousness of our God be upon us; Prosper the work of our hands; Prosper our handiwork. ~ Psalm 90:17
Here as our church year winds down in its last month, I have been thinking and praying Psalm 90, especially as we have been preparing for our 2019 giving campaign here at St. Martin’s. There have been a lot of changes here in the last year, and I and my family have been blessed to be alongside you all and be welcomed among you during many of them.
Psalm 90 has been traditionally attributed to Moses as a prayer and meditation as he faced the end of his days. This psalm depicts Moses as praising God even through the memories of adversities and afflictions to which no one is immune, even the greatest prophet to ever live.
Stewardship is about being wise with what we have been given, about seeking to nurture our gifts and blessings and multiply them so that we can share our witness with the world. Although gratitude is at the heart of stewardship, it is also about our hopes and dreams for our community in the future, about how we can live into our love of God and love of our neighbor beyond our walls. It’s about working together boldly in the faith that we can be part of sharing God’s love with others.
It’s a busy time around here—we had a wonderful pumpkin patch, the garden is winding down, the social justice committee is engaging with our region in bold, expansive ways. There’s a lot to do. Yet when I feel breathless, the psalmist who composed Psalm 90 has provided me a little reminder right at the start that each day is not ours but a gift from God, who is and was and shall be.
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, from age to age you are God. ~ Psalm 90:1-2
The opening verses of Psalm 90 are a steadfast pronouncement of gratitude and trust. God IS our refuge, forever. Now is the time some of us need that reminder. We’ve suffered some losses— and yet we are bound together in community, in love and fierce tenderness toward each other. Each numbered day we receive is a holy day, and every place we gather together is holy ground, made possible through the Spirit of God moving among us.
As we prepare this week to celebrate our patronal feast, it is good to remember that courageous generosity was a signal spiritual charism of St. Martin, who famously encountered a beggar in the cold while a Roman soldier, and responded by cutting his military cloak in two and giving the beggar half. That night, Jesus appeared to Martin in a dream, wearing that same half cloak Martin had given away. What we give, we give to God, but we also give to each other.
In the next weeks, as we pass the saddlebag from one household to another, as we talk to each other along the way, I hope each of us pauses to give thanks for the people along the route, for the common bond between each set of hands that pass the bag along. Each trail run is a tangible reminder of how far our parish and its fellowship extends beyond our physical location, of the potential for good that we seek to empower and magnify through our shared sense of community as we continue to build each other up and encourage each other as disciples.
As the people of St. Martin’s, we dedicate the work of hearts and our hands to the work of love God has called us to walk in as disciples. And we have faith that God will prosper our handiwork. God calls us into relationship and partnership, and yet we receive so much more than we give, for the graciousness of God rests upon us, encouraging us to bold witness of the power of the love of God in our lives, love that is nurtured here among us each time we gather together in fellowship, in thankfulness, in worship.
May God prosper the shared work of our hands, and knit us together more fully as one.