by The Rev. Barbara Mraz

One pundit says that Americans are almost promiscuous in their overuse of the word love.   We “love” our dog, our dinner, a season, a song, a place. Oh, and also our friends and family.

Yet how do you love when you are exhausted? When Covid is out there still menacing? When your heart is broken or when you feel helpless about the hourly tragedies in another part of the world? When you have been betrayed by a friend, a system you trusted, or your body?

This week’s Gospel is about Jesus’ charge to the disciples to love each other.  We are told that God loves, us but how do we experience that? Does God love those in Ukraine? Does God love the Russians?

These are weighty questions and Sunday’s sermon will certainly not answer all of them, but I hope it will shed some light on how to think about them. We will also extend a gracious welcome to some new members!   

Meanwhile, enterprising minds are creating a “brand” for Jesus. A group of people raised $100 million to put a series of commercials in prime time aimed at Generation Z to introduce them to Jesus. There’s an example below. I think they are beautifully produced but is this brilliant or tacky? Is it effective evangelism or a waste of time and money? Do these ads do what the church tries to do– only better? Or are they kind of an embarrassment?

And why does it matter?


See you in church.


I often feel like I’ve won the jackpot
-Bette Ashcroft

In January, Bette Ashcroft was elected as St. John’s new Junior Warden. Knowing Bette as someone who lives their faith, I invited her to share a post about her financial story. I got an immediate response, accepting the invitation and letting me know it “would probably be on the fear I experienced when I first confronted the reality that my relationship to money was deeply entwined with my faith”. Wow! I was excited to hear Bette’s story…

Some time around 1991 I was sitting in a meeting at church. I don’t remember what we were discussing, but the person to my left – a man I knew well and respected – referenced tithing as the minimum standard of giving for followers of Jesus. “Oh my God”, I thought. “He’s serious”.

I was 38 years old; a full-time mom of three children. My husband was living with a serious disease (aplastic anemia), and the only “cure” was a bone marrow transplant. The BMT at that point was still considered to be in the experimental stage, and not covered by our insurance. Our plan was to sell our home to pay for the transplant. The recovery period would be at least three months. The risk of organ rejection was very high. He might very well have died and I would be raising the kids alone with the marketable skills of a mom which were, and still are, undervalued.

We gave money to the church. After all, our kids were involved in the programs and we understood that the ministers had to be paid. We thought of it like paying for a membership at the YMCA. Yet here was this guy saying that we should be giving at least 10% of our income to the church. Are you kidding me?

No. He was serious. I had a knot of fear in my stomach that did not go away.

Shortly thereafter I was invited to serve on the vestry. One of the first items on the agenda was for the leaders of the church (ie: me!) to publicly acknowledge the tithe as the Biblical standard of giving and to pledge AT LEAST 3% of our income to the church. I reasoned that tithing was an Old Testament law, one of the religious rules that Jesus consistently challenged – never mind that Jesus also advised the rich young man to let go of the far more radical 100% of his wealth.

Giving 3% of our income to the church was a stretch for my family. Nobody knew what our income was, so we could have continued to give as we had, or bump it up a few bucks. But I knew I couldn’t serve with integrity if I didn’t actually commit to the promise. My husband and I discussed this with each other and with our kids. We decided to give it a try.

I was angry about it. I was scared. I told Jesus that if things went South, I was gonna be done with tithing, and fast. I was not a cheerful giver.

I seriously doubt I would have had the courage to start proportional giving had I not been put in the position of having to make a public statement about it. Even the rector was reluctant to suggest the tithe as an expectation of the congregation. The subject of money creates tension and stress for many if not most of us. Talking and thinking about money often calls up deep fears and insecurities, and I was no exception.

Once we surrendered to the choice, however, it got easier. We didn’t have to feel guilty or agonize over how much to give; it was a done deal. In fact, it was so easy that the next year we gave 4%. The year after that, 5%. And so on.

After a while I began to feel less afraid. I began to feel freedom from financial anxiety, and it felt fantastic. Even though we were giving substantially more than we had been, astonishingly nothing in our financial life seemed to be at risk. Our kids still participated in camps and sports; we took vacations. We never worried about having enough to buy whatever we really needed or wanted. The family business was thriving and growing. New treatments for aplastic anemia were being developed, and my (now former) husband never did need a bone marrow transplant. In fact, he will celebrate his 74th birthday in May, Thanks be to God.

I am no longer afraid to talk about money. I don’t want money, or the lack of it, to define me or define you. It would be untrue to say I never, ever, worry about my financial future. I do sometimes, especially when I listen to what the world has to tell me about the state of things, or when I feel pushed by the Spirit to let go of a little more. When that happens, I pray.

Jesus said “no one can serve both God and wealth”. Sometimes supporting the church can feel like serving wealth, especially when the needs of the poor and marginalized are given lip service but not taken seriously by the faithful. Us pew-sitters may not always agree on what it means to be good stewards of our resources. This is part of the tension of living together in community.

There are always places in addition to the church that need our support. Ernie and I give to those, too. Places that, for us, proclaim the Gospel of Love. But the bulk of our giving goes to our church, because “where your heart is, there your treasure will be”.

Our faith family has supported and sustained us in times of grief and joy. It has been a light for us and a light for others who are searching for acceptance and belonging; searching for Grace. The natural response to Grace is gratitude and generosity, but sometimes the simple discipline of proportional giving can open the road to freedom from fear.

The market rises and falls, employment comes and goes, health challenges emerge, and it is easy to become trapped in anxiety. Jesus said “be not afraid, I am with you”.

Thank you Bette, for sharing your story and for modeling courageous faithfulness! I imagine most of us have found ourselves conflicted between keeping and giving. Will you share your story with your faith community? You never know who needs to hear it. Contact Sarah Dull, Executive Administrator.


By The Rev. Barbara Mraz

As outrageous as this “illustration” is, it makes an excellent point: Some things are pretty hard to reduce to a zoom call. In other ways, it reflects the first sentence of Craig’s sermon last Sunday: Come to church.

It is wonderful to have the option of zooming into services when you can’t be there in person. Yet during the next three days, there is an intimacy present in the liturgy that can best be experienced shoulder to shoulder, in the room. If you can, come to church, and not just on Easter, although we are glad to have you at any time. But you only hear part of the story then, and in some ways the parts of the story that we may most identify in our hardest times are in the services preceding Easter.

The Tenebrae service will be at 5:30 today, and Jay Phelan will be preaching good Friday at 7:00 and I’ll preach Maundy Thursday at the same time. These are somber occasions in their painfuness but also in how relatable they are — to each and every one of us. I hope to show you on Thursday that Holy Week and Easter are not as much about history as they are about our own experience and our own world today.

May this week give you its blessings as well as its lessons.


I had the pleasure of working with parishioner and Episcopal Priest, Ernie Ashcroft, for several years when he was Chair of St. John’s Stewardship Committee. Not only is Ernie a fellow Brit but a warm and wise soul. When Ernie’s wife, Bette, told me they had been talking a lot recently about mortality and legacy, I knew Ernie would have some wisdom to share with us.

For over 15 years, my wife Bette and I have been members of a Book Club. We meet together monthly. The group is made up of five couples. We come from different backgrounds and had different educational experiences. I have learned such a lot from our discussions since I had a very narrow scientific education, with no exposure to arts or literature after being 15!

During the last month, two members of this Book Club have died. One very suddenly, the other after a long illness. These are but two of the most recent deaths of a number of my friends. These events, together with my own advanced age, motivated me to reflect on our human mortality. To do so necessitated my swimming against the powerful tide of our culture, which strongly encourages distraction and denial by, for example, encouraging us to focus on acquiring material things rather than reflecting seriously about our mortality.

I love to cook and marketers know this about me so I get lots of appealing emails inviting me to buy a wonderful new set of cooking knives, an amazing all new set of pans, or the latest coffee making machine. Yes, these can inflame my desire, but then I ask myself “what is wrong with your present knives, pans or coffee maker that they need to be replaced?” Yes, my present items could be recycled or reused, but why not be happy with what I have?

To state the obvious, we all will die and often the timing of this will come as a surprise to us. As I reflect on my own mortality, I do not have any fear about death itself and its aftermath. I am confident in Jesus’ promise of Resurrection life for us beyond the grave. The apprehensions I have are in relation to the lead up to death. Will I struggle with a horrible cancer or dementia? Will I find myself trapped in my body, following a huge stroke? I cannot know what my future here and now holds, but in the light of looming mortality it seems prudent to me to give thought to my priorities, choices and actions now.

This opens up a broad array of issues for me, but in this piece, I simply want to focus on its impact on my use of money and possessions. It is a truism that “we cannot take it with us”, or to quote the Biblical text “we brought nothing into this world, (and) we can take nothing out of it”. Expending my total effort and energy on leaving a pile of money behind when I “shed this mortal coil” seems shortsighted and selfish.

I have explained to my kids that my choosing to provide them and their kids with satisfying, shared experiences, memories and times together will certainly impact what they can expect to inherit, but in my view, this is more valuable and lasting. Last summer we took all our kids and grandchildren to Madeleine Island (not a cheap proposition) but to witness the sheer joy on the faces of the grandchildren as they experienced being on a sail boat, playing together and of course eating (many) ice cream cones said this is worth it. They will remember this trip long after I am gone.

After Christmas we took the whole family mob to Lutsen and our Christmas present to the grandchildren was ski lessons. One of our grandchildren is on the autistic spectrum and initially he said that he just could not go down even the bunny hill. He watched others doing so for a long while before very tentatively taking the tow up to the top of the bunny hill. Then he considered things for another while before deciding that he could try to ski down the little hill. His joy and sense of accomplishment when he got the the bottom lit up his face. One of his cousins who is 7 was tasked by his teacher to write what he most enjoyed over the Christmas holidays. He wrote six pages about his ski trip!

It is completely legitimate of course to make provision for my family, but is that all I need to be doing with my resources? My grown children are well launched into adult life with good jobs and careers. My grandchildren are well cared for physically, financially, and emotionally. There are four organizations that my wife and I plan to leave resources to after our deaths. We choose these because we have had special relationships with each. And yes, St John’s is one of them.

We at St John’s have a very fine church building with attractive church furnishings– altar, organ, stained glass windows etc. We enjoy these in large measure because of the generosity and sacrifice of the folks who came before us. We have inherited this wonderful physical plant as a legacy. What legacy will we leave behind for those who will follow after us?

For me, it is vital that in the future the church fabric continue to be well maintained and strategic physical improvements be made to it. But equally important is that resources be available to minister not only to our church members but also to those in the wider community often lacking the basic necessities of food, housing, employment, and justice. All these tasks will require significant financial resources. I have the opportunity not only to support the current needs of the church, but also to provide for the future ministry of St John’s. If I leave less for my kids, they will not suffer deprivation and this will free up resources to invest in St John’s future.

I encourage you to join me in facing our mortality and discerning your legacy.

Thank you Ernie for courageously thinking beyond yourself, and even your family, and for sharing your insights with us. I would love to hear from others who have been contemplating their end of life plans and legacy. Please let me know if you are willing to write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview-you never know who needs to hear your story. -Sarah Dull, Executive Administrator

By the Rev. Barbara Mraz

It’s a strange spring. 

A country that hadn’t been on our radar has emerged as the site of heartbreaking sorrow as another mad man in power smashes a peaceful country and the whole world is threatened.

Covid has receded — and now is gaining force again in Europe

In Minneapolis, teachers are still striking because they feel they must — and kids are out of school again. 

It’s Lent and Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and the Cross, as millions of other crucifixions take place in the world as the good are punished for no legitimate reason.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is asked if God punishes people according to the degree of their sins. A ludicrous question, yet we have all wondered if there is some rhyme or reason as to why such terrible things happen to good people …and good things happen to “bad” people. 

Speaking of ludicrous, in a mail order catalog I received this week, this item was for sale — “Holy Bible Book Wallet — Looks just like a real Bible! $19.95.” In this heartbreaking spring, somehow I’m now surprised.

Easter is coming… and spring is, too. Meanwhile, “Let’s go out and see what Love can do.” (Sister Julien, Call the Midwife).

See you in church.


I have enjoyed having seminarian, Jay Phelan on St. John’s staff. Jay brings grounding, wisdom, and thoughtfulness to our team. He also brings a wealth of experience and I have learnt a lot, professionally and personally, from Jay. When I asked Jay to write an article for Finance First Friday I shouldn’t have been surprised to receive an insightful reflection on his fundraising work.

For fourteen years I was president and dean of North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. The seminary is part of North Park University, a small Christian liberal arts school on the northside of Chicago with some 3000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The seminary normally has around 150 fulltime students. North Park was founded by Swedish immigrants in the late 19th century and has nearly always been resource challenged.

During the years I was president of the Seminary, the president of the University, David Horner, worked hard both to raise the academic profile of the school, improve its infrastructure, and grow its endowment. He was successful in all these endeavors, but it wasn’t easy, and the school remains resource challenged.

The seminary was, if anything, more resource challenged than the wider University. This was also a time when seminaries were (and still are) experiencing significant challenges. Declining enrollments, curriculum questions, and challenges around issue of diversity within both faculty and student bodies roiled seminaries within every tradition. Finances were not the only troublesome issue for seminary presidents, but it was one of the biggest ones.

Not surprisingly, then, I spent a good deal of time on the road doing fund raising. Since North Park had a nationwide constituency, I traveled all over the country, every year—from Seattle to Ft. Lauderdale and from San Diego to Boston. I visited with individuals in their homes and at their businesses; I met with small groups of interested alums; I preached at churches and pastors’ conferences. I pursued gifts of $10 and $100,000 and more. I look back on that work with great fondness and thanksgiving for the friendships formed and the lessons learned. Some of these fundraising lessons I share below.

People give to people. I am not saying that mailings and newsletters and the like won’t help, they do. But there is nothing in my experience more important that sitting down with individuals, getting to know them, and asking for a gift. Giving is based on a relationship. One donor I visited in California was extremely conservative. I wrote a column for a denominational magazine, and he did not always like my opinions, to say the least! Whenever I would go to see him, we would have a sometimes-heated discussion over lunch. But at the end because we respected each other though we disagreed he would also hand me a check for $20,000 or more. Interestingly, he respected me more for arguing with him than for caving in! And I argued with him because I knew very well that’s what he would expect. Such stories could be multiplied. Fund raising is based in relationships formed and nurtured over time—even in the face of disagreements.

People give to vision, not desperation, success, not failure. I have always resisted “the sky is falling” approach to fundraising. People will give to a genuine emergency (like the time the University’s science building and cafeteria were flooded), but consistent annual giving goes toward realizing a vision. Donors want to know who you are and hope to become. They are not all that interested in simply sustaining the status quo but realizing a dream that will serve the church in the decades to come. Significant donors are especially not interested in propping up the past but in assuring a desired future. Most of my donors were not interested in preparing ministers for a church that no longer existed, but in assuring that the church had leaders to confront the very real challenges they knew were coming. Every year I worked with my development officers to make sure that we had articulated a compelling vision for our future that was not only possible, but challenging, even painful.

People give to specifics, not generalities. One of my earliest friends and supporters was a man who had grown up in Kentucky and become an aerospace engineer. He had lived and worked for many years in California but retained his Kentucky accent and folksiness. When I came to North Park the school had been going through a rough patch and my team and I were trying out every idea we could think of to improve our fund raising and get the school on a more solid financial footing. Ed was on our board of visitors and after a session of listening to us throw stuff on the wall to see what would stick, he said, “You boys are like a hunter firing a shotgun into a tree to see what falls out. You need to get a rifle and find a target and try to hit that.” For my colleagues that became a kind of mantra—firing into the tree with a shotgun was neither efficient nor productive. We needed a concrete, measurable fund-raising plan and, perhaps most important, a plan that we could communicate to donors. We settled on a plan to raise scholarships for students by picking students from each region of the country, telling their story, and asking donors in their region to support them and students like them. It was one of our most successful efforts.

Fundraising is time consuming and sometimes full of disappointment. After taking an older man out for lunch and telling him about some building plans we had, my development officer and I made a significant ask. He was every bit as folksy as my friend Ed. He responded, “I think you boys have rather over-estimated my capacity.” Not everything works!

Sometimes people get mad and stay mad. Sometimes they don’t want to see you. Sometimes the stock market is bad, and the housing market collapses. Sometimes the president of the university tells you your best donor is off limits because he has big plans for him! But it is still the work of God, for the good, not just of institutions like schools and churches, but for faithful living and proclaiming Good News of justice, love, and peace.

Thank you Jay! I would love to hear other’s experience either as a fundraiser or as a donor. What calls you to share your blessings with God’s beloved world?

Understanding and navigating our society’s financial systems as followers of Christ can be challenging. Maybe that is why Jesus talked about money and possessions more than prayer and faith. As with most spiritual practices, we gain strength when we share with and support each other. Please let me know if you are willing to write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview-you never know who needs to hear your story. -Sarah Dull, Executive Administrator


by the Rev. Barbara Mraz

If “Ukraine” has replaced “Covid” every time you tune in….

If the sight of ragtag Ukrainians defending their cities  — amidst Putin’s bombs  — brings you to tears…

If you are tired, discouraged, and feeing defeated by winter, and spring seems far away…

If you aren’t sure you remember how to relate to people any more even as restrictions are eased…

If you are fed up, beaten down, used up….

If you wonder what “faith” is even about and “loving everyone” seems way beyond your skill set….

If you respect the words and experience and pain of black and brown Americans but are clueless about how to help or “do” something…..

If you are happy beyond words and joy fills your heart….

If you want what you can’t even name…

Come to church on Sunday.

There will be music….and you won’t even have to sing.

There will be stories in the Scriptures and in the sermon (six stories to be precise!) and all you have to do is hear them…

And your friends and not-friends-yet will be there….

And the Spirit of God who is Love will join you in the pew…

For these reasons… and a thousand others…

See you in church.


This month I invited St. John’s Circle of Beloved Intern, Kat Lewis, to share their thoughts and experiences regarding money.

At Circle of Beloved, young adults live together in an intentional Christian community that acknowledges and deepens kinship across many lines of difference. The fellows serve full time at non-profit sites serving the greater Twin Cities area. Some of the fellows work at AmeriCorps sites that work to close opportunity gaps in Minnesota while other fellows work directly for non-profit agencies in advocacy roles supporting programs that address issues of environmental justice, affordable housing, and food insecurity.

Instead of earning an income from their work, the fellows are provided housing and a stipend. I was curious to hear why Kat choose this path after college and wanted to share their inspiring story with all of you.

I remember going on walks at Grace Point, the church camp my grandparents started, so aware of the feeling that I stood on the edge of the universe while my grandparents talked theology to me.

My grandfather is an Episcopal priest, and both of my grandparents were active during the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. My father’s childhood was marked by my grandfather preaching that Jesus was a communist and my grandmother regularly receiving death threats from angry white supremacists. My grandmother organized with prominent Civil Rights leaders such as John Lewis and hid in the trunks of her friend’s cars to evade the police. She is a passionate voting rights activist and has served as the president of the ACLU Mississippi chapter.

To my grandparents, their faith is inseparable from their involvement with social justice. The interconnectedness of my grandparents’ passions skipped a generation, and I became the wild grandchild throwing myself into religion and activism. After I was arrested at a protest, my grandmother gleefully called me a jailbird and told me how proud of me she was—not many would expect this reaction from their grandparents upon being released from jail, but it certainly earned me the title of Favorite Grandchild. Of course, following this path did not lead to the same financial security my computer science or business major peers have. However, some things are too important to choose.

In the TV show Sort Of by Bilal Baig, the main character Sabi is a gender queer nanny who uses they/them pronouns. They have to choose between moving to Berlin for the adventure of a lifetime or staying at home to emotionally support the family they work for as the family goes through a crisis. Sabi’s sister says to them “let it not be a choice… some things are just too big to be choices.” For me, fighting for liberation is too big to be a choice, and so is my faith.

I remember sitting alone at church one fall Sunday my first year at Macalester. I had debilitating anxiety my first year of college and attending church by myself was often the only respite I had. In the middle of singing a hymn I now don’t remember; I felt a bolt of lightning crack over my head and down my spine. The lightning bolt was invisible to everyone else attending the service, but I felt it sit in my stomach and lift me off the ground. It felt like my whole body was taken over by this feeling, and it told me to be a priest, that this was my calling. Going to church, being a religious studies major, and working at faith-centered places were no longer choices—they became as important to me as clean water and oxygen.

During that same anxiety riddled semester, my friend showed me this quote from R. Buckminster Fuller:

You do not belong to you. You belong to the universe. The significance of you will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume you are fulfilling your significance if you apply yourself to converting all you experience to the highest advantage of others.

The radical and unconditional love God has for all of God’s creation keeps me grounded in my faith, and it energizes me to act boldly while seeking to dismantle intersecting systems of oppression. My grandparents are both beautiful and inspiring examples of success—their hopes and convictions took root in me to keep up the fight, and I hope I get the chance to pass it on to my grandchildren, too.

While I do not have much cash to spare while being a fellow with Circle of the Beloved and living on a modest monthly stipend, it is still imperative that I give what I can afford to support mutual aid networks and invest in the longevity of movements I believe in. Mutual aid is a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources, services, or funds for mutual benefit. When people participate in mutual aid, people take responsibility for caring for one another in the face of government failures and systemic oppression that leaves many marginalized people without. It is also a direct way for those with generational wealth to redistribute their resources to those who do not have the same privileges. It is not a one-way exchange, but a process of relationship building and community care.

What I can afford to give may not seem like much, but it could be the difference between someone being able to sleep peacefully in a hotel or suffering through a bitter Minnesota winter night outdoors. It could give a protester the extra cash they need to travel in order to appear in court, or help students afford effective masks as they risk being exposed to COVID-19 while attending school. Mutual aid encourages individuals to exact agency, by empowering them to ask their community for exactly what they need.

Mutual aid projects are what I see when I read the Bible, just as I feel the Holy Spirit moving through the crowd at protests in the Twin Cities. In The Church Cracked Open by Stephanie Spellers, she describes the beloved community in Acts:

…people from every walk of life and culture sharing their gifts so that no one had less or more than they needed. If you had more faith, you shared with those who had less. If you had more money, it went into the common pot so everyone had enough. If you had great knowledge, you should be teaching others. And you used your power to protect the most vulnerable. That unlikely body of Jesus’s followers prayed, ate, and sang together at home and in temple courts, filling the air with praise for God, sharing good news and love with their neighbors in a way that was so contagious and life-giving, others couldn’t wait to take up this countercultural, self-giving way for themselves.

Acts 2:42-47 & Spellers, 32-33

Reading Spellers’s description of the Acts community reminds me of my experiences in grassroots organizing in the Twin Cities. To participate in community organizing and mutual aid is an act of non-judgemental, compassionate love that recognizes the interdependency all human beings have in connection to one another. It is as much a spiritual commitment as it is a political and financial one. When grassroots organizations build coalitions with each other, we recognize that the vectors of oppression we struggle under are interconnected and our liberation is dependent upon one another. We work and struggle alongside each other, and give lovingly when called to do so.

Understanding and navigating our society’s financial systems as followers of Christ can be challenging. Maybe that is why Jesus talked about money and possessions more than prayer and faith. As with most spiritual practices, we gain strength when we share with and support each other. Please let me know if you are willing to write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview-you never know who needs to hear your story. -Sarah Dull, Executive Administrator

“Mic drop”

By the Rev. Barbara Mraz

At his final dinner with the White House news correspondents in 1999, President Barak Obama ended his speech with two words and a gesture: “Obama out.” Then he dropped the mike. 

Since then, “mic drop” has been defined as “an instance of deliberately dropping or tossing aside your microphone at the end of a performance or speech one considers to have been particularly good.”

(Actually, the gesture originated with the comedian Eddie Murphy at the end of a stand-up routine in 1983. He dropped the mike at the end of the performance before walking offstage. His last comment had been about the progress that had been made in the theater where he was appearing since the time when the black singer Marian Anderson was kept out, and that day when he was onstage, a 23- year-old black comedian.)

I can’t resist pointing out that there is the equivalent of a “mic drop” in this Sunday’s Gospel. 

Jesus has returned to the synagogue in Nazareth where he grew up and is asked to read the Torah portion. He finds the place he wants in the scroll from Isaiah which is handed to him. He reads: 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has appointed me to bring good new to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of the sight to the blind
to let the oppressed go free….”  

He rolls up the scroll, hands it back to the attendant, and sits down.  Everyone’s eyes are locked on him. 

Then he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


See you Sunday in virtual church when you will hear what follows and why it’s important to each one of us.


by Sarah Dull

Happy New Year!

I thought it would be fun to kick off the new year with a look at the patron saints for matters of money. Whether we are dealing with debt, giving, living faithfully, or financial hardship it is always good to call on intercessors and role models.

We all have our favorite saints, and I’m no different. Growing up near Norwich in England, Julian of Norwich holds a special place in my heart. Mary and Martha of Bethany often call me back from my work, worry, and fear to dwell with our Lord.

Sometimes we choose saints because we know they’ve experienced the same challenges that we face. Just like us, many saints earned money, spent money, and had to overcome financial challenges. They’ve been through it and come out on the other side. Or they may inspire us because they have taken different paths and are able to show us other possibilities.

Asking for the intercession of the saints doesn’t negate the necessity of hard work, but James tells us “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective,” (5:16) so why not try it?

Here are a few saints you can turn to next time you’re feeling a financial pinch:

Saint Matthew

Saint Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans and was even sitting in a tax booth when Jesus called him to become one of his apostles. Without hesitation, Saint Matthew followed Him, spread Christianity, and was eventually martyred.

It may strike you as odd to reach out to a tax collector like Matthew when you’re struggling with managing your finances faithfully, but he was a financial and spiritual wiz. The Gospel of Matthew is full of insight on how to keep our finances in perspective. For instance, Matthew 6:21 tells us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And in Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” He tells us to be concerned with things of heaven and less concerned with worldly affairs.

Saint Matthew encourages me because he was actually “good” with money by the world’s standards, yet at the same time he prioritized being a faithful disciple of God’s economy. The Gospel of Matthew can be helpful to those who struggle honoring God as their master rather than money.

Saint Jude

Another Apostle who can be called upon to help in times of financial stress is Saint Jude. “The patron saint for the hopeless, the despaired, and the impossible,” may be the perfect saint for those days of financial anxiety. Saint Jude was given this title because, it is said, after his martyrdom pilgrims came to Saint Jude’s grave to pray and many of them experienced powerful intercessions.

Saint Jude’s intercession for Danny Thomas inspired the actor to build St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in his honor. As legend goes, Danny was in desperate need of financial help and a job. He turned to Saint Jude and vowed, “Show me my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.” That prayer marked a pivotal moment. Soon after, Danny began finding work, eventually becoming one of the biggest stars of radio, film, and television in his day. Danny used his fame to fulfill his vow and named the hospital for the saint of lost causes.

Think your finances are a lost cause? Call on Saint Jude!

Saint Florence Nightingale

Saint Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 to a wealthy and well-connected British family. In her young adulthood, she had several experiences that she believed were calls from God, prompting a determination to devote her life to the service of others. In the face of opposition from her family and the restrictive social code for affluent young English women, Saint Florence Nightingale rejected the expected role for a woman of her status to become a wife and mother, and worked hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing.

In addition to being the founder of modern nursing, she championed social reforms such as improving healthcare for all sections of society, advocating better hunger relief, helping to abolish prostitution laws that were harsh for women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.

Saint Florence Nightingale used her wealth and connections to organize, campaign, cultivate donors, set up funds, establish training schools, and promote her vision for a better, kinder, more just world. She had access to people in high places and she used her privilege to follow Jesus’ way of love and care for all.

“The Lady with the Lamp” may be able to shine some light on your calling and how to use your blessings in service of others – in God’s service.

Saint Joseph

Married to Mary and the legal father of Jesus, Saint Joseph knew the pressure of providing for and protecting his beloved family. Despite tremendous challenges, Saint Joseph demonstrated constant faithfulness to God’s will and unconditional love and protection of Mary and Jesus.

Traditionally, Saint Joseph is referred to as a carpenter. Modern scholars suggest he was an artisan, working in wood, stone, and metal on a wide variety of jobs. Christian teachings and stories about or relating to Saint Joseph frequently stress his patience, persistence, courage, and hard work leading the Catholic Church to recognize Saint Joseph as the patron saint of workers.

When you are feeling the stress of work and providing, Saint Joseph will surely understand and intercede on your behalf.

Saint Anthony of Padua

I couldn’t find Saint Anthony on the Episcopal calendar of saints, but I did find several namesake Episcopal churches. So, I am going to include him because debt is as big a problem today as it was in the thirteenth century.

Saint Anthony is known for being the patron saint of lost items, but he’s also known for advocating on behalf of debtors. In 1231, Saint Anthony petitioned the Council of Padua to pass laws to benefit debtors who could not pay their obligations. At that time, money lenders were loaning money at excessive interest rates, so only desperate people would consult a money lender. Saint Anthony was known to advocate for them and campaigned for change to this predatory system.

We usually think of Saint Anthony when we can’t find our keys, but consider asking for his intercession next time you’re dealing with debt, lost income, lost savings, or lost resources.

Combining an action plan, some hard-work, and prayer to these inspiring patron saints may help you keep the faith. When I’m faced with money matters, they always help me remember, “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Understanding and navigating our society’s financial systems as followers of Christ can be challenging. Maybe that is why Jesus talked about money and possessions more than prayer and faith. As with most spiritual practices, we gain strength when we share with and support each other. Please let me know if you are willing to write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview-you never know who needs to hear your story.