Each week in May and June, we hope to share a short reflection and prayer, as an invitation into ongoing, shared prayer for the Open Door Project as we move through this season together.
Week 1 (Sunday, May 6)
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”
I love this reflection from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and naturalist. His wise invitation to patience and trust has spoken to me in many chapters of my life, and it speaks to me now as we undertake this new endeavor together. We’ve done so much work, letting needs and priorities emerge and plans develop, and still, so much is unknown. But grace has led us this far, and grace will lead us onward. – Rev. Miranda+
God, help us trust in your slow work among and within us. Amen.
Week 2 (Sunday, May 13)
Gracious God, thank you for the community of St. Dunstan’s and for calling us to be part of this holy place. Help us to explore and clarify our identity as your people. May we listen with open minds to each other, to your creation, and to you. Give us the grace to understand our part in your church’s mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Please send your Holy Spirit to be a bridge from where we are to where you want us to be. Amen.
This prayer was written in 2010 during the Interim period between our previous rector and our current rector. Praying this prayer helped to guide St. Dunstan’s through the process of identifying our mission as God’s people. It helped us focus on where we wanted to go next, and who we wanted to lead us. This led us to call the Rev. Miranda Hassett. That demonstrated to me the incredible power of prayer! You will notice that there is overlap between this prayer and our Capital Campaign prayer—a focus on mission. I commend our Capital Campaign prayer to all of you. I believe that praying it has the power to help lead us into an amazing future as God’s people.
God’s blessings – Shirley Laedlein
The Open Door Project Prayer:
Gracious God, we thank you for the growth of our community in numbers and in spirit. As we now seek to renew our church home, give our Vestry, Campaign volunteers, and all members of this parish wisdom, discernment and willing and generous hearts, so that we may renew not only the buildings, but also our commitment to your mission of restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Week 3/4 (we got a little busy with the Kickoff Party!)
Heavenly God, in you we live and move and have our being. We celebrate our differences and our similarities. Give us open doors, open minds, and open hearts that we might accept, learn and love everything and everyone who you have given us. Help us to share our lives and what we have, and to learn from all those who are in community with us. We pray in the name of Jesus who opened his arms to all, young and old. Amen.
With our Kickoff Party last weekend, we celebrated St. Dunstan’s. We celebrated who we are.
In our Open Door Project we are sharing our lives and what we have. We are learning from those in our community about each other’s needs in terms of safety, comfort and welcome. We are opening up the possibilities to create space to worship, play, eat, learn and make stuff together. We open our minds and hearts to the capacity for growth of our ministries within and outside our doors.
At St. Dunstan’s we follow Jesus’ example and open our arms to all!
– Sharon H.
Week 5: Planned Giving and the Open Door Project
During Sunday worship, when the offering plates are brought to the altar, we often use these words as an acknowledgement and dedication: “All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given thee.” These gracious words come from the first book of Chronicles, in the Old Testament. Late in life, King David is gathering resources so that his son Solomon can build a great temple to God in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:10-11, 14–16):
Then David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly; David said: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, for ever and ever. Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours… But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill-offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers and guests before you, as were all our ancestors; our days on the earth are like a shadow… O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.”
David knows that all the wealth and glory of his people comes ultimately from God, and that in giving back to God by making offerings to build the Temple, people are expressing their gratitude and commitment.
If you have already made a pledge to the Open Door Project, our capital campaign, you may have noticed that there is a place on the pledge card to check if you would like to learn more about planned giving. What is planned giving? Planned giving means organizing your finances to benefit organizations or causes that are important to you for the years to come. Planned giving includes leaving gifts to your church or other organizations in your will, but there are also forms of planned giving that take effect during your lifetime, such as charitable gift annuities and trusts.
Why are we talking about planned giving when we’re seeking pledges to improve our buildings right now? Deciding to pledge to the capital campaign and to make a planned gift have some important similarities. When people decide to pledge to the campaign or make a planned gift, it’s because they feel support of the church’s mission, a sense of connection and fit with personal values, and because they see that something special is happening that will serve the greater good. Capital campaign pledges and planned gifts are also both ways to make a gift that will have a lasting impact, for years and decades to come. For some people, then, depending on finances and stage of life, thinking about planned giving is a natural next step from reflecting on a capital campaign pledge. As the Open Door Project creates new opportunities for our church now, planned giving commitments keep the doors open for future opportunities.
We are so grateful to everyone who chooses to give back to God by giving to St. Dunstan’s and sustaining this community of faith!
All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given thee. Amen.
– Sharon Bloodgood, Planned Giving Coordinator, with the Rev. Miranda Hassett
Week 6: Go out with good courage…
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our LORD. Amen. – Evangelical Lutheran Worship page 304
This has been a favorite prayer of mine for the past few years. I heard it first when I left for school in Iowa. It spoke to me then as I had no idea of what the year had in store; this was also a new journey that I had no idea where the end would lead. I was excited and nervous about this new journey. Over the next few years I would hear it again and again around now when my colleagues and I headed off to new adventures.
Here we are as a church heading off on our own journey. An journey that will lead to something new and beautiful. The Open Door Campaign will give us more space for our growing youth and family ministry, accessible facilities will enhance our worship and our ministry, and so much more.
My journey had some amazing points, and some hard points. I have moved out of state, started in new communities, watched/helped friends move away, and left the church I was baptized in; not the greatest days of my life. I also met wonderful new friends, grew closer to God, and found a new church.
Our journey together is already having it’s amazing points; just a few weeks into the campaign we are almost at our goal. I don’t know what the hard points will be – maybe learning how to work together in our new spaces and expanding ministries.
Each time my journey lead to a new adventure, I would read this prayer and remember no matter the amazing points or hard points, God has been with me. Some days God guided, some days God lead, and some days God carried me.
God is promising the same for us. At this time of starting a new journey, God is promising to walk with our church. God will be with us guiding us as we find some of the hard times. Celebrating with us in the amazing points, and leading us throughout our journey.
May this prayer offer hope and peace throughout this time of changes as well as all of your life.
– Heidi A., a new member of our parish