Peter Fellowes gave this brief talk at the Cathedral on Sunday, October 22 as part of our Annual Call to Membership. I thought it was really excellent, and wanted those of you who missed it to have a chance to read it. Thank you, Peter!
"I suppose there must be as many reasons to pledge financial support to the Cathedral as there are individuals here this morning; but I would like to talk briefly about just one of those reasons. Like any other institution, the Cathedral needs revenues in order to cover the expenses associated with the programs it offers. But there’s a good reason why you don’t find a cashier and a turnstile at the door to the Cathedral. We operate on a different economic model than the world outside. The principle of quid pro quo is not observed here. We honor the presence of God among us by daring to fund our operating budget through gifts voluntarily made in thanks to God and by daring to depend on our clergy, staff and lay leaders to invest their talents generously and faithfully in fulfilling their program commitments. Thus the spirit in which we fund the Cathedral’s budget and breathe life into our ministries matters, crucially.
We are a prophetic community. But we live in a pluralistic secular society saturated by a vivid array of commercially motivated media selling aspirational dreams to consumers. Just underneath the surface there is a fateful free-for-all competition going on among conflicting values, ideologies, worldviews. Depending on the choices individuals make, lives flourish or falter; individuals find abundant reason to be thankful for their lives or to be disappointed. As members of this Cathedral community, we are custodians of a precious body of life-giving truths. From what other quarter than places of worship such as ours do we hear these life-giving insights?
1. For example, the universe is not an accident. The created world has been shaped in love, however dire its aspect may sometimes seem. Our very bodies, which can bring pleasure but finally become hosts to disease and death, are sacred. Death is a lie. In the love of God, we find our beginning and our end.
2. For example, there is something universally insufficient about humanity. We tend to make a mess of relationships. Each of us is so in need of healing as to require a kind of rebirth. There is joy to be found in acknowledging our dependence on the loving forgiveness of God. There we find liberating self-acceptance; there, we find our own liberating forgiveness of the insufficiency of those who hurt us.
3. For example, the attractiveness of an ego-driven life is a sham. Only in loving the other, in giving to those in need, in dying to the clamoring voice within us that cries ”I want, I need, I must,” can we find freedom, can we know peace of heart, can we enter into the fullness of God’s love.
4. For example, an earthly kingdom where love binds person to person, and all persons to God through Jesus Christ, is within sight, it is near at hand. Sometimes we can almost taste its nearly unbearable sweetness. We are bound for that kingdom – today and at the end of our days. A place has been prepared for us.
So why support the Cathedral in 2018 with a generous pledge proportional to the gifts we have received? Because the Cathedral is a place where the truth about life and the truth that gives life is proclaimed. Because the Cathedral is a place where individuals give their treasure and talents out of thanks and devotion to God – and because they do so with a sincerity of purpose that is evident in the beauty that results, a beauty that is right here this morning in this service of worship, a beauty that makes a compelling witness to truth for all those with ears to hear."
Peter Fellowes, October 22