Surprised by Joy, Part 3 – A Date With My Pledge Card

by Jackie Pierce

Here I am, it is fall, and I am once again looking at my St. Mary’s pledge card, pen in hand.  I notice it looks a little different this year, and I love the letter I received from the vestry, it is nudging me to take a different approach.  I have that adage running around my brain, “If I do what I have always done, I am going to get what I have always gotten.” Yes, when it comes to St. Mary’s, I have always gotten a lot, so why change?  But, I am so ready to embrace the positive plans that I am hearing about.  Our clergy, vestry and ministries are moving forward.  Talk is not just in the abstract, our church is implementing our vision for the future. It is exciting.  Count me in.

Even so, why does commitment seem like a four letter word? Commitment reeks of “to do” lists, deadlines and responsibilities. But maybe I have that all wrong.  It is a fact that the major commitments I have made in my life have brought me a sense of comfort and ease. The things I do for the people I love are sometimes responsibilities, but always pleasurable, too. Maybe commitment is really about “I’ve got your back” and “I’m in your corner.” True commitment runs both ways without a quid pro quo. My spouse, my friends, all give me a sense of joy and acceptance. So what is getting in my way right now?  What is my fear of commitment about?

Perhaps the reason we have elevated public declarations of commitment to such a high level in our church life, is because they are so special.  Certainly marriage and baptism are ceremonies reflecting the unending flow of God’s love for us into our relationships with other humans.  These ceremonies are about the promise of good things to come, and the promise, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that we are there for each other, offering love and support through sickness and health, plague and pandemic.

Okay, so God’s love is unconditional, we all hear that and know that.  But sometimes I have to admit to having cold feet, and I have a hard time believing.  Life’s past let-downs have a way of making me doubtful. But, this year, maybe it is time for me to stop dating  and get married to my pledge card! Okay, so here goes…I am letting go of fear, and it feels—yes–joyful!! I can do this!

Maybe commitment is a four letter word after all—maybe it is spelled “L O V E.”  I am going to give it a try.  Won’t you join me in making St. Mary’s amazing vision for us a reality?

Jackie Pierce