Today is the Feast of Christ the King, and the last week of our fall series the Harvest Principle – “You Reap What You Sow, both later and greater.” As our nation has celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday, it’s time to express gratitude in our church. We are grateful for our hard-working staff who serve our parish in many ways, often unrecognized. We are grateful for our many volunteers who have served for years or have just begun to serve our parish family. We are especially grateful to God for his mercy and grace in our lives and in the life of our church.
This past year has been somewhat of a mixed bag. It was just coincidence that our decision as parish leaders to begin a multi-year process of parish renewal has coincided with yet another wave of revelations of past clergy abuse in our local diocese and elsewhere. Nobody, with the exception of victims of clergy abuse, is angrier and more appalled than I am at the state of the greater Catholic Church, but my anger impels me all the more to commit my life, as God calls me, to parish renewal. There are plenty of signs in our nation, our families, and communities of a culture of violence and death that goes against God’s call. On the other hand, there are counter-signs found in the lives of our own parishioners. For example, our St. John’s Youth Ministry this past year has established and grown a Youth Leadership program which has already formed several of our youth and young adults to serve the church and become leaders.
This weekend we at St. John’s are celebrating all that we've reaped here in the past year. We’re celebrating the harvest of life change that God has grown up here in our midst in this church. We are also inviting you to make a commitment, to make a commitment to sow more seeds to give to the work of this church in the coming year. Specifically, the commitment that we are inviting you to consider today is this, to give 1% of your income, 1% of your household income more than you're currently giving. We invite you to identify your income, to identify your level of giving and to put it in terms of a percentage, and then add 1% to that. So, if you’re not giving at all right now or giving sporadically, giving without a plan, calculate that 1% and commit to giving 1% in the coming year. If you’re giving 1%, give 2%. If you’re giving 8%, increase it to 9%. If every family, if every household accepted this invitation, the harvest that alone would yield would be an astounding transformation in the life of our church, increasing our outreach and impact, taking us to a whole new level. This is the Harvest Principle in action – reaping a harvest both later and greater.
I invite you to reflect on things that only the local church can provide – a place to freely worship God; teaching and passing down our Catholic Faith to the next generation; an inclusive and welcoming community for all ages; compassionate outreach to the needy; and a weekly (if not daily) Gospel-based message of both challenge and hope. We reflect on the ways that our parish has grown in the past year, the challenges we face, and the possibilities for the future. We already do a lot as a parish, but imagine the possibilities, for example the hiring of a Christian Family Counselor on parish staff; or the creation of life-changing mission trips for all ages. To grow the possibilities, we need your help. May God bless us, and my God bless you and your families every day. Happy Thanksgiving!
With blessings, Fr. Reichlen