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 I have had many parishioners who have struggled with their giving or pledge because their spouse didn't have a similar commitment to church.  I know women who sneak onto the collection plate  money their husband don't know about.


Weekly Reflection: Pastor Dana Reardon
January 16, 2006

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Tithing and giving are family decisions

As I talk and write about stewardship there is an assumption that the hearer or reader gets to make his or her decisions and commitments to generosity individually, and this is not true, of course.

Most of us live as couples and families, and the decisions we make are done together. Even if not together, what we decide affects others.

I often tell the story of my grandfather's ledger that we found after he died.  The ledger contained the accounts of his blacksmith shop during the Depression.  In the midst of all that he gave a third of everything he had to the church.

He gave because he loved the Lord and wanted a church in his community.

But sometimes when I rethink that, I think about what his 10 children went without.  And I wonder whether my grandmother was included in that decision.

But at least both of them were of the same faith and had a similar commitment to the Lord.  And they lived in a whole town of Danish Lutherans.  Recently at church we were looking at the book of Joshua, and his statement, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  That was how my grandparents lived.

So what happens in a more pluralistic society when we marry outside our faith -- or more: someone who has no religious background? I have had many parishioners who have struggled with their giving or pledge because their spouse didn't have a similar commitment to church.  I know women who sneak onto the collection plate  money their husbands don't know about.

My husband and I had a disagreement about giving.  Not that he didn't agree to a tithe. But he was not sure he wanted all of it to go to the church that I serve.  He felt that they didn't share enough of what they take in.

If the church doesn't tithe to the larger church or other organizations or charities, should we tithe to them?  My husband wanted to give half of what we tithe to the poor.

So how do we resolved these differences?  I think we do it prayerfully and by listening as much as we talk.  We can be so sure that we know what God is calling us to, but first God is calling us to listen and to share the love of God.  Stewardship is more about a loving and caring way of life than it is about the right answers.  We invite our partners and our families to understand the love of God and God's generosity when we are generous with our understanding.

Lord,
You created us to live together in families and communities.  May we be as loving to those we share our lives with as you are to us. 
Amen

 

 Copyright (c) 2006, The Rev. Dana Reardon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Email her at mspastor@aol.com.
 

The Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Warwick, RI.  A lifelong Lutheran, she came to ordained ministry after 21 years in nursing, mostly in pediatric intensive care.  She graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1998 and served 4 years in Upstate New York before becoming a New Englander.  She is still trying to understand the accent.  While in the Upstate New York Synod she chaired the Stewardship Team.  That began her fascination with what makes stewards -- and more, what makes for generosity. She has three amazing daughters: Pastor Reardon says much of what she knows of life she learned from them.