The most memorable Stewardship moment I have heard was given by the Rev. Gayle Strickler Sr. at my previous church in Des Moines. Gayle was 90-some years old and the pastor emeritus at Urbandale UCC when he stood before us and explained how he went about writing a check every week to fulfill his pledge.
He described how he would tear a check out from the checkbook and hold it in his hands while he said a prayer of thanksgiving for his faith community. He then would fill out the check, pausing after each word or number to meditate about what that thing meant to him. For instance, he would write the date and think about the meaning of that date – that the church was founded a hundred years before and what had happened since.
He would meditate on the “Pay to the order of” line something like this:
“Urbandale” – what does it mean for this church to be in this community?
“United” – why is it important for church to be “one”?
“Church” – how does it feel to be part of the body of Christ?
“of Christ” – what does it mean to call Jesus the founder and leader of our faith?
Then Gayle would fill in the dollar amount. As he did so, he would think about what that money might do when added to the other offerings. One week he might think of the person in East Africa who was benefiting from the church’s contribution to Our Church’s Wider Mission. Another week he might meditate on the music program that contributed so much to the weekly worship services. Another week he might think about the new windows recently installed in the education wing. And so on.
Finally, Gayle would sign his name, meditating about what all of this had to do with him – God, Jesus, the church, the money.
Gayle, who died a few years back, was a remarkable man. He taught so many of us what prophetic courage looks like and what it means to live life as a child of God. I learned recently that he was an associate pastor here at CUCC, back in the ’60s. What a remarkable coincidence that Gayle and I worshiped together in Urbandale and, forty years apart, served the same church in Utah! Coincidence, or the Spirit working?
I invite you to sit with the Spirit as you fill out your 2012 pledge form, to think about each word and number you write on the form, to meditate on what each of those things means to you and to the church.
God is good – all the time!