January 17, 2018
Dear Saint Stephen's Community,
This past Sunday, with my trunk fully loaded with the remains of my office, the back seat weighted down with my winter and spring clothes (and my mandolin), the passenger seat carrying my church vestments and Prayerbook, I hugged my family and headed out to join you as your 4th Rector. There was ice and snow on the roof of my car that made the journey with me. I thought it might be a nice token of winter beauty for such a southern city like Birmingham. I had no idea that our first week together would bring the challenges of closing the church office twice, rescheduling staff meetings and conversations due to snow and icy roads and what AlabamaWx calls "Conditions Going Down Hill." And to top it off, day one brought all churches' favorite conversation, setting the budget. If I am honest and a little lighthearted, it feels a little chaotic.
And so in the whirlwind of inclement weather and the firehose of new information and learning, I write to share my heartfelt thanks for your 2018 commitment and pledge to Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church. Whether you give financially, support ministry through volunteering, or just show up on Sunday Morning, you make this place what is. And while I know acknowledgements were just sent out, I also realize that I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for your commitment to Saint Stephen's. So thank you.
I believe in giving, though not because it supports the beautiful and meaningful work that takes place on our church grounds. Yes, that is important, but the routine act of giving, of placing an offering in the plate, or sending a check, is a simple, yet profound action that helps us see beauty, meaning, and purpose in Christian community. It signifies commitment and sometimes risk as an action that helps to put structure around our life together. My hope for you is that your commitment to Saint Stephen's and to God helps to give more meaning and purpose to your life.
One of the stories that I return to most frequently in Scripture is the first creation story in Genesis. The story begins with the Spirit moving over chaos and creation springing forth. God puts structure to what is deemed wild and overwhelming. I believe that one of the most important qualities of God is that God is always creating, up to something new, even when we can't quite see what is next. Yet we live with the excitement and anticipation that God is doing a new thing in our lives. Your pledge is a testament to that quality of God.
Please know that I am thrilled to finally be here. While I hope that we are now past the winter driving conditions (I did move farther south), I am excited about our work together and how it can help all of us to see God in the excitement of lives together. Looking forward to all that God has in store for Saint Stephen's in 2018, that new thing that God is up to in this community and all that we reach.
Peace be with you,
Rev. John Burruss