From the Rector’s Desk—November 2015

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2015 Rector’s Report

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Let’s look over the past year: It goes without saying that Opening the Doors for worship of our new Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Beavertown on October 31 takes the spotlight. After much hard work, prayer, and perseverance, that such a beautiful building is now “up and running” is a joy to behold.

Running a close second is the much anticipated completion of the Trinity House next to the church. Engaging in one project can be challenging, but our parish has had two racing in tandem toward the finish line. It hasn’t been a tie but it has been close.

Trinity House’s original opening set for October was postponed because of red tape with certain overseeing agencies. So, it pays to be cautious about setting another “opening day” event. Though, as soon as we have the green light to occupy the building, we will go and pray there and open those doors, too. The opportunities for more ministry abound.

One key to ministry is always the funding necessary for ministry. In the Scriptures, we read about Christ’s ministry being supported, in large part it is believed, by a number of pious women from Galilee whom Jesus had healed: Joanna, Susanna, Mary Magdalene, and many others. They followed Christ and ministered to Him “of their substance,” that is of their personal wealth (cf. Luke 8:1-3).

Related: Download the full 2015 Annual Report, including the 2016 Budget and Ministry Reports.

In other words, the women’s gratitude was expressed not merely in words but in wealth. They just didn’t say “thank you.” They put their money where their mouths were. In time these women would be known to us as the Holy Myrrhbearers, those who stood before Him at the Cross, who prepared Jesus’ body for burial, and who first heard the glad tidings of the Resurrection from the Angel.

They gave both so Christ could minister to others as He had to them, and ultimately they ministered directly to Christ, buying burial ointment and anointing his Body. In fact, it would be precisely because they were busy about their ministry that they would be shown worthy of first hearing the Good News that Christ was risen from the dead.

Holy Trinity Budget 2015

Proposed Holy Trinity 2015 Budget (click to enlarge)

Through the generosity of many, both the Chapel construction and Trinity House renovation has been made possible. Contributions above giving enabled the Chapel to be built with the Archdiocese loaning the balance: $115,000 from the Chapel and $75,000 from the Archdiocese. Likewise, building fund donations and pledges have accounted for almost $200,000 for Trinity House.

This being said, these buildings are not ministry. They only provide a location, a shelter, a roof. We could rest and be satisfied, but in time we would only have pretty buildings to show for it.

Chapel Budget 2015

Proposed Chapel of the Holy Spirit 2015 Budget (click to enlarge)

For this coming year, let’s look at the example of the Myrrhbearing Women and ask ourselves three questions whether or not our attitude towards giving to Christ’s ministry mirrors theirs.

  • First, do we give generously? The Scriptural measure of generous giving didn’t begin until after the required 10% of income was given. In fact, in the Bible this amount, the tithe, was not considered an offering.  An offering only began after the tithe was first paid.  I would suggest that here is where generous giving begins for us, too.  The Women gave of their substance, that is, their principal, their capital. — If we talk about after-tax income, the Myrrhbearers were engaged in after-tithe generosity.
  • Second, do we give cheerfully? The Scriptures also teach that God loves a cheerful giver: not grudgingly, but joyfully. In fact, the Greek word for this type of giving is “hilarious.” That’s right, giving hilariously. This Greek word is related to the word for the sun “ilios” (ήλιος). Just as sunlight shines forth naturally from the sun, God wants our giving to well forth from us naturally without compulsion (cf. 2 Cor. 9:7). — The Myrrhbearers gave hilariously, all the way to the Cross, the Tomb and the Resurrection on the Third Day.
  • Third, do we give lovingly? It has been said that we can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving. Jesus sums it up best when He said: “God so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son, that all who believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). — The Women knew this well. Jesus never asked them for a thing. He simply loved them, healed them and said, “Follow me.” They responded to His love by loving him in return.

For our parish, there is no difference. We are asked to give to the work of ministry, out of our substance, in gratitude for all that Christ has done in our lives. It is not a question of paying the bills, although bills always have to be paid. Rather it is a concrete act of worship when we follow Christ, to give of our substance. It is an expression that our lives have been healed, our infirmities cured, our demons cast out, such that all we can do is lavish our love on Christ’s Body, his Church.

When we look at the blessings of this parish, its facilities, its people, its ministries, let’s embrace the opportunity to follow Christ, giving like Myrrhbearing Women this coming year: generously, cheerfully, lovingly. The opportunities for more ministry abound, not building more buildings but building up souls for the Kingdom of Heaven.

From the Rector’s Desk,
Fr. John