On Servants' Wings
A gynandromorph butterfly with the transgender pride flag for the front wing and the rainbow pride flag on the rear wing On Servants Wings
Resources and Reflections by Ari Leigh


Stewardship


Stewardship Sunday sermon for Church of the Atonement in Westfield, MA on Nov. 16, 2014

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Text: Zephaniah 1:7,12-18, Psalm 90:1-8,12, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-23


Good morning,


My name is Andy Leigh and I'm serving as the coordinator for 5 College Common Cup. This is a new campus ministry, that is unfolding with the year. My primary responsibility is to create community and open spaces for conversation within the 5 colleges. I do this by being on campus, attending various student organizations, networking with religious life departments and meeting with students.


One of the places I meet these communities is at Mt. Holyoke where I host a table and ask the students a thought provoking question each week, and gather their answers. Last week, looking ahead to the longer nights in Advent I asked, What keeps you up at night?


What I learned is that they are up late wondering "Whether I know enough to decide what I want for my future." And "How does one decide whether to follow the path of their own desiring or the one that would bring happiness to everyone? Do you sacrifice your own happiness, or potential the happiness of those around you?"


What the students are facing is the same choice given to the servants in the parable, the same choice that is given to us today. What do we do with the things we've been entrusted with? What does it mean to invest wisely?


As I've prayed for the students, and reflected on my own actions in joining the Lawrence House community

I'm reminded of a story.


A teacher walked into a classroom and set a glass jar on the table. They silently placed 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more could fit. Then they asked the class if the jar was full and the students agreed that it was. The teacher said, "Really," and pulled out a cup of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they filled the spaces between the rocks. The teacher asked again, "Is the jar full?" This time, the class was divided, some feeling that the jar was obviously full, but others were wary of another trick. Then, the teacher added a cup of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles.


The teacher then explained, The rocks represent the BIG things in our lives – God, family, health, and so on. The pebbles are the other things in our lives that give them meaning, like our friends, jobs, and hobbies. The sand represents the 'small stuff' that fills our time, like Netflix marathons or running errands."


When I consider today's parable I see in it a question of priorities. Do we respond to our lives in fear, hiding our gifts against the unknown, or perhaps the far too familiar dangers of this world? Or do we take the time to make wise investments, clearing away the clutter of consumerism and the illusions of security to pour ourselves into relationships which build and create.


This is my second year with an Episcopal Service community. I've moved back and forth from Kansas to New England twice. At times this investment has felt jarring and disconnected, as I've watched all the little things I've depended on be left behind. Then the ripples begin to bubble up. Ripples of change, of hope. Rather than basing my life on grades or jobs I've been freed to center my life in prayer, my success in community and my future in God.


As I talk to students about where I live they are excited because they see the potential for a path that isn't directed by greed or success, but love and hope. Beyond the work that we do, the formal connections we make, our lives are becoming a witness to a kingdom that isn't defined by the powers of this world. This is a kingdom we all share in by nature of our baptism, a place we are building with every word we speak, and every dollar we spend.


Amen.



Copyright © Ari Leigh 2019