Bob Kessler – “Witnessing Steward,” October 24, 2021
My name is Bob Kessler. My wife Gwen was raised in a rural, small town in Minnesota and church was a large part of her family’s spiritual and social life. As a girl she developed a satisfying feeling when she put a small amount of change in the collection plate each Sunday. She doesn’t recall whether she earned the money by doing chores or if her mother gave her the coins to instill in her the act of giving. She does remember hearing the phrase many times, “It is better to give than to receive.”
Gwen attended Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and confirmation classes. She served as an acolyte and sang in the church choir. All of these early experiences taught her stewardship: the responsibility Christians have in maintaining and using the gifts that God has given us.
Our first visit to SAP UCC was for a Sanctuary Vigil in the winter of 2018. Upon opening the door of the building, Gwen and I were immediately impressed by the warmth of the personal welcome that we received and the concern displayed for the plight of immigrants and refugees. The evening left us moved in a way that we had seldom felt as members of other faith communities. Afterwards Gwen and I talked about how much the experience affected us. It was clear that SAP UCC was a place where social justice was more than a committee; it was an important part of the life of the whole congregation.
In 2020, Gwen signed up to attend her first-ever SAP UCC Women’s Retreat. It was an amazing two days of fellowship and spiritual growth for her. She has moved past her childhood days of dropping coins in the collection plate. She now understands that her talents are a gift from God and that it is important to give these gifts back to the church and community through actions, service, and monetary contributions.
We all have various reasons for making a financial commitment to SAP UCC. Each year Gwen and I reflect on an amount to pledge and then fill out our Auto-Pay Authorization form. For us auto-pay has been an easy way to make our contribution especially during Zoom worship and the times we are out of town and unable to attend service in person.
In closing we would like to share a Stewardship Prayer that has a special meaning for us.
Gracious and loving God,
You call us to be stewards of Your abundance,
the caretakers of all you have entrusted to us.
Help us to always use Your gifts wisely,
and teach us to share them generously.
Send the Holy Spirit to work through us,
bringing your message to those we serve.
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