I grew up in Orleans, on Cape Cod, born an Episcopalian and attended the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans, where I was baptized, and one of my godfathers was Rev. Jim Babcock, the rector when I was baptized. I give to All Saints because both my parents were on the vestry at different times, my mother sang in the choir and belonged to the ECW (Episcopal Church Women), and she enjoyed and felt supported by her church up to the day she passed. We actually had Emily baptized in the nursing home when she was four weeks old, because Mom didn’t have much time left, and so the priest came out and did it for us.
I give to All Saints because I believe in what the church provides for services, to parishioners, to the community, to the Diocese, and to the world. I give because I believe the church holds an important place in the world and does important work. I have my own work to do, and I cannot do all the things that the church does, so I give money to support the church’s work and keep it going.
I give to All Saints because I was an Acolyte. My favorite Acolyte memory is the late Christmas Eve service one year, as I was standing and waiting for the service to begin with the Acolyte Master and the retired bishop of New Jersey, who was celebrating that night. We had a lot of retired clergy who would serve occasionally. The rector came striding by to tell everyone that the bell choir was playing and to get ready for the processional, by saying “This is it! This is it! The bells are ringing…”, to which the Bishop sang “for me and my gal”.
I give to All Saints because I enjoyed the High School youth group when I was a teenager. We used to go on ski trips and beach picnics and we had a disco every other Friday night. We had the best youth group on the lower cape. In fact, our youth group was so good, and so big, we had the Catholic kids from other towns coming to our youth group! One year we took a weekend trip to Boston, driving up Friday evening, and staying in the parish hall of a local church that night, going into the city on Saturday and walking around seeing the sights, and then coming back to the parish hall for a big spaghetti supper before bed, followed by attending services the next morning before driving home.
But I also give to All Saints because I have seen folks who come to church regularly and sit in the front row and have all the prayers and hymns memorized and who give a pittance, and then go back to their lives of treating their families and people in their lives, and the customers in their store, like dirt, to the point where I realized that they didn’t come to church because they wanted to, they came because they NEEDED to.
And I also give to All Saints because I want to support the diocese staff who helps churches select their new priests, because I have seen how the process can go badly, when a church selects poorly or gets incorrect information or just gets a bad match for their new priest, and how devastating that can be to a parish and the parishioners. So, I give in gratitude for all the wondrous works the church does and all these fantastic experiences I have had. Some of you may also have some these reasons, although I doubt any of you had a youth group like mine!
But I also give in a proactive and an expectant sort of way…You may have heard of Zig Ziglar. Zig was a personal development coach, mentor, motivational speaker and salesman who was born in Alabama, and grew up during the depression in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was a Baptist who incorporated Christianity and Christian principles into his motivational speaking. His personal motto was: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”. I used to listen to his tapes a lot while commuting or doing yard work. I always felt less tired after listening to Zig. Zig told the story about a man walking in the woods, hot, tired, and thirsty, when he comes on an old lever handle water pump. He knows he can get water from the pump, so he starts pumping, and pumping, and pumping, and nothing happens. Then he remembers that pumps need to be primed, so he finds a puddle with a little bit of water in it, scoops it into his hands and pours it carefully down the pump. He waits a minute and then starts pumping again, and he’s rewarded with lots of cool fresh water coming out of the pump.
If you don’t know Zig, but maybe you remember the Kingston Trio, they have a song called “Desert Pete”, about a man in a similar situation who finds a pump with a bottle of water and a note attached to it, with a lyric that goes “You’ve got to prime the pump, you must have faith and believe, You’ve got to give of yourself ‘fore you’re worthy to receive, Drink all the water you can hold, wash your face, cool your feet, Leave the bottle full for others, thank you kindly, desert Pete”.
So, I give in gratitude for the life I have and all the blessings I have received. But I also give in anticipation of all the future blessings that I WILL receive. Because I believe that more goods things will come to me, and to my family and to my community, but I have to prime the pump in order to make that happen. And I believe THAT, because I have seen other good things come to me and my family since I started priming the pump and giving to the church.
And that Parish Hall that I stayed in with my youth group back in the fall of 1980….? All Saints, Chelmsford.