If I remember correctly, I preached a stewardship sermon at Emmanuel three years ago quoting from the hymn, “‘till not a stone was left on stone and all those nations’ pride, o’erthrown, went down to dust beside thee.” The point was that neither Emmanuel nor any of us would last forever, and that it was important to build a strong Emmanuel in the present.
The author of the hymn, Walter Russell Bowie, was an Episcopal priest who spent part of World War I in the area where we are staying and I suspect that the image of “not a stone was left on stone” came from the horrors he saw here. A couple of weeks ago, I described Soissons Cathedral, which has been rebuilt stone upon stone.
The small town where we are staying, Dormans, was flattened just as surely as Soissons—but, rather than rebuild to look as it had before, it was built anew. The stores and houses reflected the needs and styles of the 1920’s where people actually lived and worked and built new lives, even while surrounded by French, British, and German graves and the men who had returned alive but terribly damaged from the fighting.
As our 2019 annual giving campaign continues, I believe that we are building for the needs of today and for tomorrow. Of course we need to keep our historic building in good condition, but we are looking how to make it more accessible and inviting to people who want and need it now as well. In our worship and music, we use words and tunes which pre-date Emmanuel and also words and music which are quite contemporary. The old and new blend together to stir us to move forward as a community. Our outreach addresses needs as old as humanity such as homelessness, and as new as the opioid crisis which envelops Baltimore and its sister other cities. Our educational programs are meant to give us a context for what we do and a basis for moving forward.
Our stewardship is rooted in who we have been, who we are, and who we are going to become. Though the expressions are different, the essence is the same. We are the people of God called to make known God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ. We are asked to give so that we might be more effective in sharing the story which shapes us, which gives us life.
Your generosity will help Emmanuel to move forward. A new rector will be in place (Godwilling) in the coming months, and a strong response from you in this stewardship effort will continue to enable Emmanuel to serve today and tomorrow as a vital sign of God’s presence in the troubled times.