A few weeks ago, when we were preparing for a fundraising Quiz Night in St. Mungo’s to help towards the payment of a few big bills, a generous donor gave us the pledge of 2 tickets for the Celtic v Paris St. Germain game at Celtic Park to be used as a raffle prize. At the time, we thought this very generous offer was too good to just put into the raffle along with the boxes of chocolates, the cosmetics, and the bottles of wine and whisky, of which there were many. Indeed, during the raffle, I was lucky enough to win both a bottle of red wine and a bottle of whisky for which I, and the community, were duly grateful. Our newest member of the Passionist Community, Brother Antony, had three wins in a row and, so far as I remember, gave all his prizes away. Each time one of Brother Antony’s tickets was drawn out, Father Gareth let out a cry that it was all a fix, as he ended up winning nothing at all, despite the fact that there were loads of prizes to go around; although I have a funny feeling that Father Gareth never bought a ticket in the first place, so what could he expect?
With the donor’s permission, we decided to try something else with the Celtic tickets and so, once we had the tickets in hand on the Saturday before the game, I called my brother Hugh, the notorious football pundit on Radio Clyde. When I phoned he was out at an Indian restaurant near his house with his wife, the long-suffering Janet – he enjoys a Chicken Tikka Masala does our Hugh. He promised to call me back when he got home, which he duly did. I told him about the tickets and he said he would put it on Twitter and see if he got a response.
Within minutes Hugh had received a generous offer from the son of the late, great, Tommy Burns which I was happy to accept. Tommy’s son lives in Florida and he was waiting for Hurricane Irma to arrive, but he wanted the tickets for other family members at home, and he also wanted to help out St. Mungo’s. One of the reasons I accepted so quickly was that Tommy was a frequent visitor to St. Mungo’s and, in fact, people remember that one time he was so wrapped up in his prayers that he ended up locked into the church. When Tommy’s daughter arrived on the Sunday to collect the tickets she was delighted to hear that story.
Hugh and Tommy were good friends and, back in 1989, they had co-authored Tommy’s autobiography: Twists and Turns – the Tommy Burns Story as told to Hugh Keevins. So, it seemed to me, there was a sense of providence that these tickets should go to Tommy Burns’ family. But also, in a gesture of good will, some others who had bid for tickets communicated to Hugh that in times past they had connections with Townhead and with St. Mungo’s and, even though they hadn’t been successful in their bids, wanted to know how they could help out St. Mungo’s anyway – so we will see where that goes, and thanks for the kind thoughts. It just goes to show what a special place St. Mungo’s is and the place it holds in people’s hearts, and of course Tommy was a special person too, may he rest in peace. (Pity about the score!)
In our church situation money is about stewardship, so here is a stewardship prayer to ponder:
Stewardship is rooted in the understanding that we live in a God-centred creation. It begins with the realization that everything we are and everything we own is a gift, freely given by a God who loves us, and who calls us into relationship with Him. We have nothing – not even life itself – which is not a gift from God. The Lord has given each one of us gifts, graces, talents, abilities and resources – all of which are to be shared responsibly and wisely with others. Faithful stewardship is a way of life that demands involvement and care. It can be equated with holiness – and God calls us all to holiness. Amen.