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Rector's Reflection for October 18, 2013

posted Oct 17, 2013, 2:10 PM by Parish Administrator

 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  (Romans 12:6-9)

One of the great things about having Seminarian interns is that they invite me to revisit and rethink my own theology and ministry practice.  This week we had an excellent conversation on the “art of giving.”

There are many theories about giving: the calculations involved, the methods and the principles.  We agreed that the tithe (the giving of 10 percent of income, time and talent) was the basic measure of faithful giving, and we also agreed that Episcopalians were notorious for keeping the word “tithe” out of our community vernacular.

Then we got to the “how” of giving.  Some organizations make it very easy to give: on line via pay pal, electronic debits, and other auto pay methods.  There was some conversation as to whether or not this gets us, as disciples, to the point of giving, or whether it is better discipline to write the check every week, or to place something in the plate. 

I’m not sure there is a “more faithful” way of giving.  For me the act of giving is an effort at faith.  Every year my husband Mark and I look at our finances and decide what we can give, and we try to stretch a little bit.  Our first giving is to church, and then we give to the other organizations we believe are doing good, gospel-work in the world.  My family’s pledge is a direct deduction from my pay check.  After the amount is decided, we set that amount, and we don’t think about it again.  This way, I don’t have to second guess my decision, and the giving takes place regardless of what else happens in our lives.

Maybe this is an “ostrich-like” way of doing things.  But as I read Paul’s exhortations to the Roman Church, it seems that for some of us giving is a gift: it is what we do because of who we are.  For others of us, giving is a discipline: it takes practice and diligence.   For me, making my gift even before I see my check is the way I commit to the exercise.  It may make the giving less painful because it doesn’t feel like a loss; but perhaps the spiritual place I seek is a place where I don’t notice what’s missing because I am so happy about what I have. 

Kym+

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