Friends in Christ,
There is a legend about the ancient Gauls. Though conquered by the Roman Empire, these warriors resisted with every ounce of their being and staged several uprisings. Over time, many Gauls were converted to Christianity. According to the legend, when a warrior was converted and then baptized in a stream or river, he would hold one arm high in the air as he was dunked under the water. Why would they do such a thing? To justify their warrior behavior. At the next battle the Gaul could, in good conscience, grab a sword or club and raise it high saying, “This arm is not baptized!”
In a wonderful book called Giving to God, Mark Allan Powell mentions this urban legend and wonders what the image might look like today – keeping one part of your body dry and free from the influence of baptism. He pictures a modern person perhaps going under water with one arm outstretched clinging to a wallet. I’m reminded of Luther’s comment that sometimes the pocket book is the last thing to be converted.
Like every aspect of our faith journey – prayer, participating in worship, acts of mercy and more – giving generously is a necessary spiritual discipline. Like all disciplines, giving is a practice that nurtures our relationship with God and walking in a baptismal way of life. A discipline around faithful giving prevents us from loving money too much and helps us use money in ways that honor God and promote the values of Jesus.
Generosity Sunday is October 22, celebrated at both services. You will be given opportunity to ponder generosity and discern your commitment to the ministry of PRLC for 2018. As you think and pray, please consider tithing or working toward a tithe in your commitments for next year. Below, you will find a useful chart that outlines percentage giving.
I have found tithing – giving 10% of one’s income – to be a life-giving spiritual practice. Tithing has its roots in the practice of our Hebrew ancestors and has continued to be a faith practice among Christians. I am buoyed by the fact that PRLC tithes to our Synod. I have also been inspired by many a tither whose practices of generosity impart God’s love in powerful ways.
Tithing, or increasing our giving with the goal of working toward a tithe, is a practice I commend. It’s the kind of thing we do as those called to “walk wet.”
Giving as an Act of Worship
At the end of parish announcements each Sunday, you’ll usually hear me or Pastor Hansen say something like, “Now let us offer, with joy and thanksgiving, what God has first given us.” What does that mean, anyway? Well, for starters, it’s counter-cultural, isn’t it? I confess that when I pay my bills, I don’t always do it with joy. We wince at the thought of our medical expenses; we cringe when the grocery tab exceeds our budget; and I haven’t heard of anyone being thankful about the rising cost of car tabs!
When we put our offering in the plate on Sundays (or see it come out of our accounts via the automatic Simply Giving program), we’re not paying a bill. Instead, think of your giving as an act of worship.
A key tenet of our faith is the incarnation – the embodying of God in the person of Jesus Christ. We have a God who loves us so much that God didn’t remain distant, but came in flesh and bone to be with us in all things. And so, much of what we do in worship symbolizes this tangible relationship with have with God through Christ. We make the sign of the cross on our bodies. We splash in water. We taste bread and wine. We share the peace with hugs and handshakes. And we give our actual money. We give it because we believe in the work of mission in this place, sure. But we also give it as a physical reminder that our whole lives belong to God.
We make an offering with joy and thanksgiving not because we are “paying for a service,” but as an act of worship. An act that physically reminds us to turn away from our self-focused desires and anxieties, and toward our generous and loving God.
God bless you,
Pastor Van Kley
Proportional Giving Guide: Monthly Giving as Percentage of Income
Why Simply Giving
Simply Giving is a “first fruits” method of giving. Many of us are using electronic fund transfers (EFTs) to pay bills each month. Move your church giving to be the first thing to pay each month.
Accurate records are maintained indefinitely. An electronic contribution is safer than writing a check, and it can’t be lost, stolen or destroyed in the mail.
Flexibility. Withdrawals can be made weekly, monthly, or twice a month. You can give to the general fund and various ministries of the church, and a simple phone call or e-mail to the church office can stop your giving or adjust the amount, should the need arise.
Simplicity and peace of mind. When travel or obligations keep you from regular worship, there’s no need to mail a check or dash to church with your offering envelope. EFTs give you peace of mind that your stewardship commitment is taken care of and that PRLC receives predictable revenues. No “summer slump” for the church, no “playing catch-up” for you.
Most importantly, our ministries are strengthened. Consistent giving allows PRLC to effectively fulfill our mission and vision in our church, in our community and around the world.
So for these reasons and more, I say thanks to the over 90 households currently contributing to PRLC this way. If you are interested in trying Simply Giving, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, pick up a flyer from Grace Station, or sign up at Simply Giving.