I’m sure glad that we get fifty days to celebrate Easter. I realize that at every Eucharistic meal on every Sunday we commemorate the death and resurrection of our Lord; however our tradition gives us a season, a full fifty days to live into the wonder and awe of new life in the Risen Christ. From the bursting open of the empty tomb to the overflowing winds and fire of Pentecost, we are invited to live into a deeper awareness of what it means to have the Risen Christ live in us and through us.
We are a eucharistic people; a people of praise and thanksgiving. This is not an abstract idea or an intellectual assent. Rather, it is an incarnational reality and we need to find meaningful and tangible ways to affirm gifts and express gratitude. The blessing of Easter comes to us as a community and shapes us a community; we receive this blessing more fully when we do something to celebrate that community. What would it look like in your congregation if, on each Sunday during Easter, you prayerfully and publically thanked ministry leaders? Or what would it look like if you prayerfully and publically commissioned, on Pentecost Sunday, your Stewardship Ministry Team, a team whose goal it is to model gratitude and generosity?
Feel free to use and adapt this commissioning prayer for a Stewardship Ministry Team, graciously given to me from the Stewardship Officer in the Diocese of Oklahoma.
Commissioning of the Stewardship Ministry Team
You have been called to be leaders at [name of church] as we all seek to be stewards of God’s gifts to us. Your commitment to this calling flows from your awareness that all things come from God and return to God. Will you commit yourself to respond to God’s generosity through modeling generosity and inspiring openness to God’s love and the work of the Holy Spirit in this community?
Leaders: I will.
(to the Congregation):
And will you, the community of [name of church], support the stewardship ministry with open hearts and fervent prayer as they seek to help all of us live lives of gratitude and generosity?
Response: We will.
Let us pray.
On this day your Spirit descended upon the first church overcoming barriers of language and culture and expanding the hearts and minds of those seeking your leading. Send your Spirit upon these leaders that they might challenge us to open our hearts to our true identity, our deepest calling and our ultimate concern. We offer these people to you that you might offer them back to us as sources of comfort and challenge as we seek to know who we are and what we are called to be and become.
In the name of the Giver and representing [name of church] community, I commission each of you as a minister of stewardship.
In these fifty days of Easter, let us celebrate new life by blessing our ministry leaders, whosecall is to share the light of Christ. Alleluia Alleluia.
--The Rev. Laurel Johnston, is the Program Officer for Stewardship, The Episcopal Church