This is too late, especially for clergy buddies and their congregations. Has to do with money and stewardship and next year’s budget. They’ve already done that, getting pledges for the new year.
Yet. The responses to the garbage blog, about the poor in Paraguay, triggered by one competent and very envisioning symphony director, are more than encouraging. How many people see our problem is we focus more upon wants and not needs, declaring that a big goal for us all is to reduce our wants and underline to experience our needs.
That brought to mind a number of notes on giving. So, on this clear-sky, frosty November morning want to at least share what has been important—and always will be—in thinking about our goods and values.
Not in any order:
Do we realize our checkbook is our biographer? Look at it this way: what if in 1,000 years an archeologist discovered our checkbook and looked through it. After figuring out who “Cash” is, what might she say about who we are?
Society has it wrong. Society says who we are is based upon what we have. That is, the more we have the better and more valued we are. The Gospel says, “Nope. Who we are is based upon what we give, how we share our resources for the good/benefit/strengthening of others. Growth doesn’t come from having; growth comes from giving.” [That valuable lesson comes from Doug Meeks, who worked with me on the Doctor of Ministry degree in a declaration upon why people give money to the church. Thanks, Doug…see how your ministry never found a cul-de-sac?!]
On this latter note, the guy in the Gospel who wanted to build a bigger barn has relevance—sobering and exacting, but truer than true…might that be true-est?
In my pocket are some dollar bills and two crosses. One is from the First Christian Church in San Marcos, where I served with them a year as interim—it was made by a wonderful parishioner who used nails from a horse’s hoof; the other is representative of the first pocket cross I received, 8th grade at Camp Adams, Molalla, Oregon, from Parson Vincent Crane who asked me to consider ministry for my vocation.
On this, what is important, say we hold the dollar in one hand and the cross in the other…which is more important? As a friend pointed out when watching the garbage-into-a-symphony video, “Mark, most people consider the symbol of life to be the dollar. Well, if we consider a symbol an object that not only points to something ahead—a sign—but also contains what’s most important, and if the dollar’s more important than the cross, then we have a Swiss cheese value system. It’s not the dollar sign that gets me through; it’s the cross. Besides. Ever seen a luggage rack on a hearse?”
Finally, at least for this blog, our giving decision should NOT be based upon a percentage [i.e. a tithe of 10%] or upon the church’s budget, that is, “if we don’t get this amount of money we won’t retain our pastor full-time.” Another nope. Down deep, where it’s not shallow, our giving should be a statement of faith. So, ask myself and yourself, “Tell me about your faith, for your giving reflects that…in the ultimate sense.”
Okay. Enough for now. On a Saturday morning, this next week headed for Thanksgiving, and that unto itself is a matter to consider in giving…to give thanks for what we have, that it is gifted from God. And also, as I’m about to take Faith for a walk [when truthfully she takes me for walking each morning], I realize as we come to the end of November…it’s steelhead fishing time. That, however, will be for another blog.
So, to each of us, happy living…which is correlative to happy giving. Cannot have one without the other.