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So many of us who know how much we are going to be earning cannot even offer our church an estimate of giving so that the church can have some idea of what they have to work with in planning a budget for the year. 

 


Weekly Reflection: Pastor Dana Reardon
January 22, 2007

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Faithful giving means trusting God to provide

Last week I told you how I was adopting a minimalist budget. It's very hard! But it occurs to me that at least I know how much money I have to work with.  I often hear retired people talk about being on a fixed income, but the truth is that most of us are on a fixed income. 

That is in a good sense. Our hourly wage or weekly salary is fixed so that we know what we have to spend each month.  Not everyone lives that way.  Farmers don't always know how large the harvest will be or what the price of their crops will be when they go to market. They must trust in the Lord and work hard every day, not knowing what all the work will produce.

That is why I was so impressed when I learned that farmers often take out a loan at the beginning of the year to make their tithe to the church, so that the church will be there to pray with them and for them throughout the year. Then, of course, the loan is paid off at the harvest. 

And yet so many of us who know how much we are going to be earning cannot seem even to offer to our church an estimate of giving so that the church can have some idea of what they have to work with in planning a budget for the year.

The result is that far too many churches operate on this kind of austerity budgeting.  Even if the year before was good, the finance people are understandably nervous about assuming that the same or more will come in again the following year. And so they keep a very lean budget.  I know of a church whose finance people took a first look at the money and projected a budget that contained a $40,000 surplus.  They couldn't quite believe it and so they played with the numbers until most of it disappeared.  It is understandable when they really have no idea what the church income will actually be.

It is understandable, but it is not faithful.  Faithful is trusting in God to provide and stepping out to do the mission we are called to, knowing that when we do that God will provide.  Faithful is filling out an estimate of giving card based on what God has given you, so that the church can have some assurance that it is going to be able to do what leaders project. 

Faithful is continuing to give according to your estimate as much as possible.  If your circumstances change for the better, faithful is giving glory to God and a share to the church.  Faithful is also coming to the church with circumstances that change for the worse and asking for prayers and offering a new estimate.

Most faithful are the farmers who give up front.  It is not even first fruit.  It is in anticipation of God's abundance before the first seed is planted.

Someday I would like to be there, as faithful as God is to us, but until then I need to put in my own estimate of giving card and pray that God will bless all of us abundantly and then show us where god would have us use the gifts given us for God's mission in the world.

Lord,
Blessing all of us as we offer our gifts to you who are the giver of all.  Help us to be generous with what we have and also with what we know, to your glory, Amen


Copyright 2007, 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.