One of the things I have come to count on in my marriage, even more than my wife’s acts of love, is her promise to love me. While certainly a promise without the delivery of an act is empty, an act coming from something other than promise is mere seduction. Acts issuing only from feelings are so temporary and fragile and become reminders of what will inevitably cease. Acts issuing from promises become hints of what is yet to come, reminders of that which is greater than us.
As a husband, I will admit that my acts of love have benefitted me far more than they have my wife. As I have treated her with love, I have come to love her even more. Yet I know I have grown through my promises to her even more than through my actions. Actions are only about the present while promises are about the future. Actions present who I am; promises stretch me into who I could become.
Currently we are asking you to consider acts of good stewardship, the giving of your financial resources to God’s work in the world. More specifically, we have asked you to give to St. John’s and suggested that you will grow closer to the Lord as you give. Now we commend to you pledging as even more important than giving. You are asked, not only to give to St. John’s, but to make a commitment to giving. And for good reason.
Certainly there is the practical matter of planning. We can budget only from pledges. For us to make plans for the coming year based only on what we want to do, with no thought as to what is affordable, would be absurd. Were your Vestry to behave in such fashion it would be similar to children buying things without parental consent as to what is within our means. We will spend only what is committed to us as available resources.
Even more importantly there is the matter of our mutual spiritual growth through prayerful commitment. Not only do my promises to others instill a sense of trust and hope within them; they also extend my sights of my own capabilities. My commitments cause me to dig deeper and to do the things I have said I would do. My promises improve my actions.
Commitments also bring me to the realization that I cannot do by myself all I have said I would do. My failures and successes alike in my promises remind me that I fulfill no commitments without God’s grace. My promises are extended, inspired by a sense of what I might hope to do. And then I must deal with so many things which threaten my actual actions. I am tempted not to keep the commitment; I tease myself with rationalizations about how others are not delivering on their promises. Yet the commitment echoes interiorly, a quiet voice of what could and should be. Promises both remind me of how little I can accomplish on my own and how very much I can accomplish when I draw on God’s help.
God does not love us on a whim; God loves out of promise. The resurrection is not an emotional reaction to human cruelty; it is the culmination of God’s commitment to us. We are called, not just to love others, but to commit our love. And so we ask you, not just to give to God’s work in the world, but to pledge your commitment. The promise, and the giving, will connect you to eternal life.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
PLEDGE CARDS ARE REQUESTED BY NOVEMBER 3