Have you ever been given a gift of money with the stated expectation that it be used for something in particular? Maybe the gift was from a family member or friend who wanted to do something nice for us, perhaps on a special occasion, and suggested it could be used for a piece of furniture or home improvement or article of clothing. Even though the gift is welcomed because it is money we didn’t have before, the direction that it be used for something that the giver perceives we need or should do makes the gift feel like less of a gift. Receiving a gift feels light and fresh; receiving a gift with expectations behind it, or strings attached, is a bit more complicated. But it’s still a gift and we take it and do the best we can with the situation. If such a gift is from someone who has a history of manipulation and control, the gift might make us furious and hook us in some unhealthy ways. If it’s from someone we don’t have such history with, the gift can be received more easily. Of course the best gifts are ones with no strings attached and no stated expectations. Then we feel free to do with the gift what we think best. Maybe it’s even easier if the gift is anonymous so that we don’t imagine what the giver might want us to do.
The Church tries to teach us to give freely and with no strings attached. That’s the way it is with God – God gives freely and so abundantly. As we learn to give like that we grow more fully into the image of God. The Church teaches us to give, urges us to be generous in our giving, so that we might be more fully who God created us to be. We give, the Church teaches us, because it’s so good for us to give. Our hearts follow our treasure and the more we give over time the more generous we become.
The Church asks us to give and let the gifts be used as the Church thinks best. Notice that when the Church asks for our annual pledges we’re not asked to give to a particular area or project. We’re just asked to give and trust the Vestry to use our gifts in the way that is best for the parish. The Church is actually giving us a gift as it asks for our gifts: we’re being encouraged to become more generous and more trusting, to make an offering to God and let go.
But your parish leadership does believe it a good thing to show each year where the total gifts will be used and where we stand in our financial health as a parish. Each year, as we ask for pledges, we show what we hope to do with our gifts in the coming year. That helps us work toward the dreams we have developed and it helps our members trust our gifts to be well used.
Each member of the parish will be invited this year to attend one Stewardship Meeting prior to making a pledge for 2014. Your canvasser will call you personally to invite you to one of these meetings. There you can hear our dreams for the coming year, hear about finances in general, ask any questions you might have, and ponder your own level of commitment. At that meeting you will receive your pledge card and packet of materials to help you make your pledge. If you are unable to attend a meeting, your canvasser will come to your home and speak to you personally about your pledge.
Make plans to attend one of the following hour-long meetings in the Parish Hall:
Sunday, October 6, Noon
Thursday, October 10, 5:00 pm
Sunday, October 13, Noon
Tuesday, October 15, Noon
Sunday, October 20, 9:15 am
Begin now to examine the percentage of your financial resources you currently give to God’s work in the world. Remember that your parish leadership identifies tithing, giving 10%, as the norm to which we all are called. If you are not tithing now, we encourage you to increase your percentage of giving one percentage point each year. Your Church will do good things with your gifts and God expects us to give generously. It’s for our own good and the good of the world.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.