September 15, 2015

As we approach Ingathering Sunday, October 11, the Cathedral will be hosting a series of stewardship speakers, talking to us about how their financial gifts reflect their life in this community. Our first speaker (on September 13) was Kyle Ritter, Canon for Music.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This passage from Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi is one my favorites from Scripture, due largely to the inspired composers who have been moved to set these beautiful words to music over the centuries.  Our choirs at All Souls, both adult and youth, sing three of these settings. 

It may not surprise one person in this room to hear me say that some of the scripture and poetry that I love most I first encountered through music – either through a choir anthem, a congregational hymn, or a solo offered by a singer.  The perfect wedding of a text and tune has the capacity to move me like nothing else, and, in fact, is one the great joyful motivators in my work as Canon for Music here at the Cathedral – seeking words that we, together, both in the choirs and in the congregation, can offer through song to express our joys, our sorrows, our concerns, our thanksgivings, and our shared vision, so that we may be moved to take our feast, our abundance, outside of these walls – to be “All Souls” during the week to those who are familiar, as well as those others we encounter who are unfamiliar. 

Stewardship, by its definition, is about faithfully tending to something we treasure - for that which has been entrusted to our care.  In this moment, I am speaking of the abundant and exquisite treasure we call “All Souls” – both the people who make up this community and our inspiring buildings where we gather.  I believe, like Paul states in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, that we are called to tend to our All Souls treasure in this way – “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presenting our requests to God. We begin with a thankful heart for all that All Souls and this spiritual journey means to us, and we give out of our overwhelming gratitude for the people of God who are gathered here in this time and place, for the community that is created, and for the ministry that is lived out.

As I was reflecting on what I might offer in this meditation, a question kept popping into my mind: Would I make All Souls my spiritual home if I was not on staff here? The answer to that question is an emphatic YES. I support this community with my time, my finances, and my prayers, because of the people - the unique and thoughtful people who are All Souls - US - TOGETHER, who bring so much dedication and devotion – people who pray for me and hold me in their hearts, as I do them. I support this community because when I pull up to the cathedral on Sunday mornings, I see easels and tables scattered on the porch and front walkway, signifying the energy and enthusiasm of the various ministries that our vital to our mission outside of these walls.  I support this community in thanksgiving and gratitude for the singing, both by the congregation, and the unbelievable folk I get to make music with week after week in our adult, youth, and children’s choirs. I support this community because of this table, where our truest and unconditional selves (not our quote “representatives”, as Deacon Glenda put it in her sermon a few weeks ago), are invited to lay it all down, to celebrate the gift of being a church family, for all that family is, and feast together at this wonderful at this wonderful meal we call the Eucharist.

I support All Souls with my time, my finances, and my prayers because I am grateful to be here.  I give thanks for my cathedral family, I believe in this community and its mission, and truthfully, I cannot imagine my life without it.