The Rector’s June 2014 letter

Dear Friends,        If one equates Christian Stewardship with an appeal for money to fund the operations of the congregation, then the month of June seems an odd time to be addressing this subject. After all the EMC (Every Member Canvass), when persons are asked to make a financial commitment so that our Vestry can plan the next year’s budget, doesn’t take place until October. If, however, Christian Stewardship is understood as a way of life, a re-ordering of priorities so that we follow Jesus more closely as Lord and Savior, then any and all times are appropriate to discuss Christian Stewardship.          We live in a culture that is increasingly defined by money or lack thereof. Money is synonymous with power; power is equated with prestige; and prestige is accounted with meaning and success.  To this the Church says “hooey”. You have been sold a bill of goods. When you die you will not take one nickel with you. As the Scriptures state succinctly and decisively, “For the love of money is the root of all evils;” (I Timothy 6:10) Christians are to love God and one another, not money. The reason that the standard of giving in the Episcopal Church is the tithe is to force the issue of placing God first in our lives.           Every time that we part with our hard-earned cash it should be an act of thanksgiving to God the giver of all good gifts. Every charitable donation that we make loosens the allure of the world and draws us closer to God. The tithe is an objective standard by which to measure how we are doing. It reminds us that life has a purpose and a goal worth striving for. The old adage “Give until it hurts” proves only that most of us have a very low threshold of pain. Christian giving makes us feel good, not bad. This week I received a note and a check from a couple in the parish. They are not people of great means, but they wanted to say thank you for an important event in their life. They thought that the Culmore Health Clinic would be a good place to share their joy. In so doing they made my day and the day of the Executive Director!  (Remember that our Vestry designated last year’s Christmas offering to the clinic and our generosity helped to stabilize their financial situation.)          All of this is not to say that the Church doesn’t have to wrestle with how to pay our bills (see page 2). If “Give until it hurts” is not helpful, then the ancient wisdom that “Christians are in the world, but not of the world” is something that we need to hold onto and remember. Making a credible witness for Christ to the world requires many things, one of which is money. If you are new to the parish or have yet to make a pledge for 2014, there are still seven months in our fiscal year. Pledge cards are available and the parish staff will be happy to assist you in making your confidential financial commitment.          Examine your giving on a percentage basis and commit to increasing that percentage every year. Don’t get caught in the weeds. Does all charitable giving count toward the tithe? Does caring for my aging parent count as well? Be honest with yourself and move ahead. You will be glad you did.     May the peace of the Lord always be with you.     Faithfully,     Andrew +