Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Risk Management

I’ve already warned you that I like Kierkegaard.  I pray that you are not tired of him yet.  He wrote this prayer and I think it speaks to us as we make the next step in our journey, this voyage with each other and God. 
Preserve me, Lord, from the deceit of thinking that by being prudent and looking after my own interests I am necessarily using my talents aright. The one who takes risks for your sake may appear to lose, but is accepted by you. The other who risks nothing appears to gain by prudence, but is rejected by you. So let me not think that by avoiding risk I am better than the other. Grant me to see that this is an illusion, and save me from such a snare. Amen.
What dear Soren has said is consistent with Jesus in the gospel we’ve been reading on Sundays this year. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25 RSV. 
Can we take a moment and consider the extent to which we have used “prudence and looking after our own interests” as the baseline for our decisions together?  Can we ask if we have taken a risk?  (By the way I think we have taken some risks, so being honest about our answers doesn’t require us to be harsh or to lay blame on anyone.)  But we need to know who, when and how.  Knowing the risks we’ve already taken allows us to stand on the shoulders of so many who were faithful before us. 
For me it means learning to live on less and asking for help before I try to “do it myself.”  It means risking a self-image built from and for defense.  For some it might mean real courage to step through real fears triggered by real hard times, debt and even loneliness.  For others it might mean choosing their commitments before all the numbers are in. 
It might help to understand that most “risk management” models would have us avoiding failure or minimizing its effects, a safe strategy. And I’m not advocating recklessness or carelessness.   But I’m wondering how we can push a little, maybe a lot into taking a new risk in our lives with God. 
We are about to set sail with God on a voyage much of which is unknown at this point.  We know what we are allowing our selves to hope: for financial stability, expanded outreach, more worship, stronger programs, increased collaboration with our neighbors, full-time compensation for our priest, etc.  Are we just as much allowing ourselves to hope that in joining those faithful ones who have gone before us we are taking our own risks in this moment? 

November 2 is set for you and your shipmates to gather in a special “All Saints on Deck” meeting to share what has been learned and to invite each other on Advent’s voyage. Our time will begin at 10:30am with worship in Holy Eucharist streamlined to allow us to finish the day in special session and still be dismissed as early as 12:15pm.  We will share the same summary the vestry has used to draft a budget, get a quick review of that draft, and share in prayers to help make those commitments of time, talent and treasure for 2015 and beyond as we risk with God and voyage into a “new world” of mission and ministry.

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