Think about a wonderful gift you received from someone. Can you remember the feeling of surprise turning into excitement? Perhaps you kept it for a long time, or maybe it was just right for a particular moment.
Now recall a time when you gave another person a gift which delighted them. It probably wasn’t rare or expensive, but it meant a lot to them. What was it like to see their reaction?
Doesn’t it feel great when you can do something like that? It’s actually a spiritual experience, as the Letter of James observed: not only every perfect gift, but “every generous act of giving” comes from the Father. (James 1:17) When we’re being generous, however that is expressed, we’re growing closer to God.
We’ll need to keep that in mind in the coming weeks, as our fall Stewardship campaign begins. Members of our church family will be talking about the seeds they’ve planted in their lives and the fruits which have been harvested. All that takes place in the tension between God’s amazing abundance and the relentless realities of the world. That’s where most of us live: seeking to be generous and realistic at the same time.
You’ve seen our church leaders struggling to find that balance. We don’t have the same resources we did last year, though we’ve been responsible and are spending less than we budgeted. We need to get our programs up to speed but don’t want to overcommit ourselves financially.
So after long discussions we’ve made painful compromises: we called our Music Director but our new Organist is working on a five-month agreement. We finally have a Senior Ministry Program Coordinator, but only for the one-year duration of the gift that funded the position. We’ve delayed calling our new Youth Director until we reach more clarity on that decision. How we end up this year and the growth in our pledges for 2016 will have an impact in all three areas.
The leaders who are debating these questions make our own pledges to support St. Tim’s financially. We know what it’s like to be caught between being generous and being responsible. We know that God is at work in our midst and has a vision for our future.
Our part in that begins with letting our lives by shaped by God’s loving and giving nature. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16) In response to that incomparable gift, let’s try to grow in generosity however we can. “Be doers of the Word and not merely hearers,” James wrote. “Doers who act will be blessed in their doing.”