The Rev. Marcia Hagee, a 2007 PTS alumna, serves on the campaign cabinet to promote prayer support to undergird the work of PTS generally and the campaign, in particular. Each week, she sends out a meditation and prayer to persons who have agreed to pray for PTS. If you would like to be added to the prayer list, please contact vice president of stewardship Gary Peluso-Verdend via email.
Meditation and prayer from the week of December 1, 2008
Recently my stewardship reflections stalled. Words fled, images slipped away, and my e-mails to you went silent.
On Mondays 3 little boys in kindergarten and 2nd grade come to church after school for Bible School. They are children loosely associated with my church but have no committed adults to bring them to Sunday morning services. I meet them at school and walk the 1.5 blocks to church with them. For 90 minutes we eat, play games, share a story and color.
Just before Thanksgiving we sat on the floor in a circle and bounced a soft yellow smiley-face ball to each other. The one who caught the ball said something for which they were thankful. I expected this to be a quick activity but we played and played. Our thankfulness offerings were all over the place from silly (not being trampled by an elephant) to lovely (the way my mom tucks me in at night) and everything in between. We discovered we can be thankful for different things. I am thankful for naps and they are thankful to outgrow naps. I am thankful for vegetables and they are thankful for Happy Meals and cupcakes.
As the children and I named exuberant notions of thanksgiving my dried up words became saturated with gratitude. Gratitude for children who come eagerly to church and for a church that knows them by name, celebrates, and blesses them in the name of God’s kingdom among us. Gratitude for all sorts of things I hadn’t really noticed for a while. Gratitude for PTS and the possibilities for ministry it opened up in my life. I needed to rediscover that gratitude is as necessary to faith as breath is to life.
Healthy stewardship needs the refreshment of gratitude to help us express our celebration of God’s good gifts in our lives.
Prayer: Most gracious God, thank you for churches and children, ministry, witness, and the impact of PTS in more lives than we can know. Renew in us gratitude that springs forth into generosity. Amen.
Meditation and prayer from the week of November 10, 2008
The nuts and bolts work of the Bridges of Faith Capital Campaign is to raise financial support for PTS. If we mapped this process it might look more like a web than a linear march toward completion.
Its web-like nature comes from the ways people connect to PTS and to other people, to churches, to para church organizations and out into the world in expanding loops of contact and influence. The concrete result will be $20 million in solid financial health. The intangible results will be equally important.
PTS is a place of articulate scholarship, reason, and spirituality. The Bridges of Faith campaign spans all of that with encouragement, believing PTS into new possibilities for living out its vision for ministry today and into the future.
Prayer: Most gracious God, thank you for all the ways PTS is supported by donors and churches. Bless the work of the Bridges of Faith campaign to embed committed stewardship into the very bones of our friends, our churches, and ourselves. Bless the Bridges of Faith vision for the future of PTS and grant peace with persistence to those carrying out the work of this campaign. Amen.
Meditation and prayer from the week of October 6, 2008
A 9 year old who lives in my church neighborhood spent most of Sunday dumpster-diving. He came to see what was going on when some of the guys from church started setting up cookers in the church parking lot for our annual fish fry. When I arrived he had a gift for me – blue beads strung on elastic and fastened in a knot. “This is for you, Miss Marcia,” and he slipped it on my wrist.
I invited him to stay for dinner and assigned a young adult to accompany him and keep him out of trouble. My 3rd grade friend stayed, asking questions, helping set out plastic ware and eating with gusto when the food was ready. I was busy working the room, chatting with guests, focused on my agenda for the evening.
When it was time to leave he planted himself right in front of me and said, “You’re welcome.” I frowned in confusion. “For the bracelet,” he said and I finally really looked at both him and his gift to me. Almost everything he has comes from dumpsters and he gives the best of what he finds to others who often don’t see either him or his gifts because, like me, they are busy with more “important” things.
Prayer: God, open our eyes to the gloriously up-side-down presence of the Kingdom of Heaven among us. Teach us, again, the thankful holiness of giving and receiving in the name of the one you have called us to follow, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Meditation and prayer from the week of September 29, 2008
Fog is burning off of the wheat field behind my house and the cat is perched on the barn steps waiting for breakfast.
Lots of choices are right in front of us as we live into the gift of a new week. What will we say and do? To whom will we matter and who will matter to us? What will change? And how will we experience God this week?
We who are in ministry have the care of responsibilities that may burden us to our bones. PTS is a place of hope in the way it has nourished us, guided us, and continues to encourage us. As this week unfolds may our prayers partner with the stewardship of donors and the vision of PTS to build Bridges of Faith into the future of God’s church in this world.
Prayer: God bless the ministry of PTS with abundance. Help us hold steady as the marketplace throws its tantrums and donors reevaluate their ability to give. Show us the empowerment that comes from acceptance of your invitation to share faithfully in the stewardship of gifts for ministry that can transform in your name. Amen.
Meditation and prayer from the week of September 15, 2008
We are assaulted by violent weather, chaotic markets, and divisive political campaigning. People in our churches are uneasy, disoriented and looking to the past for explanations. How do we offer spiritual direction in such times?
Stewardship is about far more than giving money away. Stewardship, according to my trusty Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, "involves the whole of life since all life comes from God and is to be lived for God's glory." (p. 270)
Prayer: God of all creation, transform our small notion of giving into your holy practice of stewardship writ large in the lives of our churches and stamped upon our hearts as people of steadfast faith in the midst of turmoil. Ground us in steadfast faith, disciplined habits, and the stewardship of self and resources that unleash hope, health, and change in your world. Amen.
Meditation and prayer for the week of September 8, 2008
The Wednesday after school program in the church I serve started up last week with eleven exuberant children from kindergarten through 6th grade. This is monumental for a church with 24 people in worship yesterday morning. Only one child has parents who attend here. The others began coming last year for the food, Tag, and Hide-and-Go-Seek. Most have no church experience.
Now, everything I learned at PTS is on the table in response to them.
Prayer: God, continue to pour out your blessings on PTS and the churches it touches. As PTS guides and nurtures pastors, help those pastors guide and nurture disciples so that bridges of faith carry the Way of Jesus into transformed and transforming lives. Amen.
Meditation and prayer for the week of September 1, 2008
Were you riveted to the weather coverage this weekend as Hurricane Gustav spun havoc across the Caribbean and roared into Louisiana? Now we watch the reports of Hannah, waiting to see where her rain dance will occur.
PTS has a unique connection to storm-drenched Louisiana through Dr. Ellen Blue and her husband, the Rev. Jim Wilson. Ellen and Jim have been affiliated with the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church for many years. They are presently in New Orleans for Ellen’s sabbatical year. Her PTS faculty web bio states: “Dr. Blue was awarded a Lilly Faculty Fellowship for 2008-09 by the Association of Theological Schools for her sabbatical project, “In Case of Katrina: Reinventing the United Methodist Church in Post-Katrina Louisiana.” The project is an outgrowth of her course, “The Church’s Response to Katrina,” which takes Phillips students to Louisiana to explore churches’ re-evaluation of their mission in light of devastation to property and the scattering of congregants.”
Prayer: O God, bless PTS with the resources to continue to provide fine faculty and sabbatical years for their renewal and professional development. Wrap Dr. Blue, her family, and her beloved New Orleans in endurance and safety. Pour your spirit into all of the people and places hurting today and give your church powerful presence in the midst of the overwhelming needs of people suffering from these storms. Amen.
Meditation and prayer posted August 26, 2008:
My first PTS classes began 6 years ago this week. It was a journey in all kinds of ways – beginning with the 7.5 hour round-trip drive! I learned to read material written at least 3 miles above my head, gird up the loins of my brain to fight the good fight for critical thinking and reading skills, and cherish sleep. I faced radically new thoughts and terrifying opportunities to write and speak. Along the way I soaked up new skills, coherent theology and an appreciation of history and context. Best of all, I found a community of friends, mentors, scholars, and preachers who took me in and believed me into rewriting the possibilities for my life.
PTS is a place of transformation. May there be adequate resources to provide hospitality to every person called by God to attend Phillips Theological Seminary.
Prayer: Most Gracious God we ask for streams of generosity to nurture blessed supply for the needs of students, faculty, staff, churches and donors. Set the pillars of our Bridges of Faith campaign deep in the bedrock of your vision for PTS and the future of your pastors and churches in this broken world. Amen.
Meditation and prayer posted August 8, 2008:
The lectionary Gospel for August 3, Matthew 14: 13-21, is the account by the writer of Matthew’s Gospel of Jesus feeding 5,000 men and uncounted women and children.
Some people interpret the mysterious multiplication of provision as miraculous increase in the nature of the bread and fish. Others note the possibility people in the crowd spontaneously shared their own carefully concealed resources. Either way, it is a story in which generosity and abundance woo each other into a dance of shared provision and everyone’s hunger is filled.
Prayer: Most gracious Creator God, may the spoken and unspoken desires of your church and the work of PTS come together to spark creative generosity and satisfying abundance. We pray for PTS and the network of churches it touches to be filled, as the crowd was filled, with resources left over to seed even more ministry. Amen.