For a Vibrant Life
Parishioner Merz Peters (shown here at the Sea of Galilee) has been active at St. James' for almost three decades. His decision to consecrate a portion of his finances to God's work reflects not only his gratitude for the experiences he has already had, but the gratitude he fully expects to feel in the year to come. Read on...
My wife, Nancy, and I joined St. James’ 23 years ago. Since then, I’ve had innumerable opportunities to deepen my relationship with God, to increase my gratitude to God for all the blessings my family and I have received, and to grow by giving a portion of my time and financial resources.
Among my memories of being involved in the vibrant life of this congregation are:
- as a member of the Grants Committee, riding with the driver of a truck from “God’s Love, We Deliver” picking up unused food around the city
- celebrating my birthday with the men at our homeless shelter
- being on the St. James’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year
I know many parishioners have had similar experiences, and I hope any who are thinking about becoming more active here at St. James’ will do so, too.
But I will add a word of warning to those of you who are new: St. James’ can become habit forming! When Nancy and I moved 60 miles north to Putnam County almost two years ago, we easily decided to remain part of this community because of our deep involvements and long friendships here.
Worship is central to our Christian life together. I’m privileged to lead the Prayers of the People and to serve the Chalice at Communion on Sundays throughout the year. Our wonderful clergy faithfully interpret the weekly scriptures for us, and I personally feel comforted as they continually assure us of God’s love. We are also blessed with truly magnificent music. When I come into the quiet of this beautiful sanctuary, and look around, and look up before I kneel, I become aware of the prayers by parishioners who have come before. All of our prayers float up to God.
So while St. James’ upholds and practices the traditions we love, we are also surprised and challenged in new ways. Although at first I wasn’t sure about weekly Bible Memorization started last month, I’ve discovered that reading the verse of the week a few times while eating breakfast is fun and stimulating. (And more uplifting than CNN or The New York Times!)
As we move to Consecration Sunday two weeks from today, each of us will be thoughtfully considering our answer to the question: “What percentage of my income is God calling me to give?" For me, it will be a personal faith commitment empowered by God’s grace -- an opportunity to express gratitude throughout next year.