Bearing Fruit: Witness & Service

Grapes
“Every good gift and every perfect gift come from above and comes down from the Father of lights. . .” (James 1:17). We have so much to be thankful for. Our good and loving Lord has blessed us with life in its abundance. In His incredible love for humankind God allows us to care for creation, for ourselves and for one another. We are stewards or managers of God’s creation, of one another and of ourselves. To be a Godly steward is to be one who manages as God does, understanding the uniqueness and preciousness of creation. Indeed each person, each animal, each plant, each object, is special to God. To be a Godly steward means to manage our own little world and our lives – both of which are gifts from God, with this in mind.

Each year we have a stewardship campaign, like Orthodox and Roman Catholic parishes and Protestant and Jewish congregations throughout our country. Most of us equate these campaigns with the fiscal necessities for our parishes or congregations. That certainly is a major part of these campaigns. However, their purpose is much greater than this. Their ultimate purpose is to remind us that everything good that we have is a blessing from God and to live our lives in thanksgiving to God by giving in general, of our time, talents and treasures – which of course, are from God. There are Biblical guidelines for this giving. The one we are most familiar with is the tithe. “And all the tithes of the land, whether of seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy unto the Lord . . . And concerning the tithes of the herd of the flock . . . the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30,32) A tithe is ten percent. Essentially, the Mosaic Law set a ten percent offering of one’s crops or livestock to the Temple. These offerings were used to care for the Temple grounds, the Levitical families who cared for the Temple and Temple grounds and were unable to own property, and the indigent, the widows without families and others in need.

The concept of the tithe entered into Christianity and became a guideline – at times a minimal guideline – for giving within the Church. This was especially true in the early Church where millions of Christians in the first few centuries gave everything to our Lord, even their very lives as they spilled their martyr’s blood out of their devotion and commitment to Him.

Our Archdiocese has chosen the theme, “Bearing Fruit: Witness and Service”, for the 2006 Stewardship Campaign. This is based on the “Parable of the Sower” from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Our Lord is the Sower and the seeds are His Word. In order for us to bear fruit, we must have received His Word in a humble and prepared heart, receiving it, nurturing and tending it so that it grows within us. Then, through witness and service to our Lord, we have the privilege to become sowers with Him as we give from the blessings we have received.

Our St. Catherine Parish invites you to become a part of our 2006 Stewardship Campaign. We are grateful to you stewards for your faithfulness throughout the years. Many of you give of your time and talents – both of which are gifts from God – with hours upon hours of volunteer offerings. You also give of your financial resources – again gifts from God – as faithful offerings. In fact, in 2005 to date, we have 306 Stewards, which I believe is our highest number ever! Financially you have pledged some $535,000, which again is our highest number ever! Thank you for bearing fruit through this witness and service. Please join with me, Fr Paul, Fr. Evan, our Parish Council, and Ministry Leaders, teams and volunteers to continue with this faithful witness and service. Give of your time, talents and treasures that you have received from our Lord, as thanksgiving offerings to Him. December 1-18, 2005, Stewardship Chair, Stacey Gallanis and her Committee will focus on the 2006 Campaign, Bearing Fruit: Witness and Service, with a special emphasis, 10% by 2010.

God bless you and be with you and have a Glorious Celebration of our Lord’s Birth.

In Christ’s love,

Fr. Lou

Oh behalf of Fr. Paul, Fr. Evan, our Parish Council, our Philoptochos, our Ministry Teams and our staff, God’s blessings be with each of you for a Glorious Christmas Celebration of the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ is Born! Glorify Him!